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Tech Plaza Call – Fake Microsoft Support

ScamToday I received a call from someone at Tech Plaza – (www.tplaza.info).  THESE PEOPLE ARE A FRAUD!  I recorded the call and the audio is available at the bottom.

They proceeded to tell me they have received notification that my computer has problems and they are willing to help resolve them.  I know several people who have received similar calls and were asked to pay as much as $300 to resolve the “issues”.  They also installed what could be malware on their PCs during the process.

Sometimes they cold call like this…sometimes they answer 800 numbers that are high in the search rankings when searching for things like “Microsoft Support”.

PLEASE let you your friends, family, and yes…even your enemies know about this so they do not fall victim to this.  There is nobody at Microsoft that is going to call you to tell you that your computer is broken/infected/not working well.

If you want to jump straight to the confrontation – jump to 11:25 into the recording.  I didn’t start the recording right away as it took me a minute to get my cell phone and I cut out some of the hold music in the middle – but I did my best to keep them on the line as long as possible.  Enjoy.


google-nexus7A lot of people think that I am an Apple Fanboy.  I enjoy Apple products but I do not rush out and buy every new model that comes out.  I skipped the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 and I am still rocking the original iPad 1st generation.

I love tablet computing and could see the real value in a form factor like the iPad Mini.  But have had a hard time justifying the price to have another tablet device.  Add to that my intrigue in the Android platform (I have not owned any Android device yet) and the new Google Nexus 7 is right up my alley.  This article is a quick overview of my first thoughts of the device.

First (and this will be important later) lets discuss the name of the product.  The new Google Nexus 7 is referred to as the “Google Nexus 7 2013”, “Google Nexus 7 FHD”, “Google Nexus 7 2nd Generation”, and sometimes some combination of all of the above.  And may times it is just referred to as the “New Google Nexus 7”.  This makes it very difficult in determining what product you are really talking about and what accessories are compatible.  I hate it when companies make their product names so ambiguous.  I am going to call it the “Google Nexus 7 FHD” as that is how I see most folks referring to it.

Now on to my thoughts…


I love the price of the Google Nexus 7 FHD.  $229 for the 16GB and $269 for the 32GB ($150 less than the iPad Mini).  So much more affordable than the iPad Mini.

SD Card Slot

Everyone is talking about the lack of an SD card slot.  But for me this is not a big deal.  The cost premium to upgrade to the 32GB version (only $40) makes it easy to start with the biggest model from the start.  And with so much of my data in the cloud I do not need a large amount of local storage.  I store my music on my phone and the only area that I might feel the storage pinch is when it comes to carrying around movies on my device.  For this reason I did go with the 32GB version.

Headphone Jack

They went with a standard headphone only jack.  So you are unable to use a headphone/mic combination.  Also you have to push really hard on the Apple Ear Pod plug to get it to click and operate correctly.


This is my biggest pet peeve.  I almost always buy a case for a new product like this.  You want to protect your investment.  But with the new Google Nexus 7 FHD this is almost impossible.  Best Buy only carries the first generation cases and the cases are not interchangeable with the devices due to the slight size difference between them.  Even on Amazon it is almost impossible to find a case for the new model.  If you can find them on Amazon you will have to wait almost three weeks after the original ship date of the Google Nexus 7 FHD for the case to ship.  The fact that I do not have a case for it yet is preventing me from having the device with me as much as I would like.


I read many complaints about stability issues with this new product.  I have not observed any.  I did get two updates before I was able to use the device and I am now running 4.3.  So maybe the stability issues were related to earlier versions.

Overall I am very happy so far with the new Google Nexus 7 and look forward to getting to know Android and it’s apps much better.



Innovation: Shoes and the Internet

Today at work we were discussing innovation and how fast things happen these days.  It was brought up that although shoes as old as 3500 BC have been discovered it was not until the mid 1800’s that left and right shoes became popular.  That means that the world went over 5,300 years without a simple innovation that we totally take for granted today!  Based on how much we travel on foot everyday it is almost impossible to imagine how you would do this without the quality footwear we have today.

The topic came up when were discussing the distances that Civil War solders had to march and the weight of the items that they carried.  We came back to the concept that innovation is always spurred by necessity.  Over 5,000 years ago if you had everything you needed nearby you would not have to travel far and therefore not need a decent pair of shoes.  By the end of the 19th century folks were traveling much more and needed decent shoes to facilitate this.

This led me to speculate – what will people talk about in a few thousand years regarding our innovations of the 20th century?

Will future generations look back on us and comment on the fact that we created digital computers in the 1940’s but wonder why we did not create the Internet (as we know it today) until the 1990’s.  In the year 4000 they will look back on a 50 year span as an eternity when it comes to innovation.  Just as we look back on 5,000 years without a left and right shoe as an eternity.  Will folks in the year 4000 wonder what we could have possibly done with computers without the Internet (or the cloud)?

What would we tell them?  We used to type letters and create spreadsheets to do simple math.  We used to be able to send each other files and messages – but only within our own company.

Oh yea…and we used to print stuff.


My Personal Data Leaked by WikiLeaks?!?!?!

Back on September 11, 2001, I was the owner/operator of a Internet Service Provider in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  In addition to the dealing with the terrorist events that day, we also were experiencing some system problems that morning.  We were working on the system problems at the same time that the attacks were occuring in New York City.

Back in November of 2009 I recall hearing that Wikileaks.org had released pager messagesfrom that day.  I guess I was a bit intrigued by it.  However I really did not grasp what it really meant.  I guess I was under the assumption that the messages were more government/EMS related.

Imagine my surprise today while I was searching for something in Google I ran across a site that had this content:

2001-09-1103:08:51Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton FTP,POP3 DOWN at 02:03:51|Server newton FTP,POP3 DOWN at 02:03:51 Add
2001-09-1103:10:06Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server volt WWW DOWN at 02:03:53|Server volt WWW DOWN at 02:03:53 Address: 206.145.
2001-09-1103:11:51Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton FTP,POP3 UP at 02:03:55|Server newton FTP,POP3 UP at 02:03:55 Address
2001-09-1103:37:36Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton FTP,POP3 DOWN at 02:31:15|Server newton FTP,POP3 DOWN at 02:31:15 Add
2001-09-1103:38:36Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton FTP,POP3 UP at 02:31:21|Server newton FTP,POP3 UP at 02:31:21 Address
2001-09-1103:40:36Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton UP at 02:35:15|Server newton UP at 02:35:15 Address: Inf
2001-09-1110:28:07Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server bell UP at 09:22:45|Server bell UP at 09:22:45 Address: Info 1:
2001-09-1110:29:07Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton DOWN at 09:22:42|Server newton DOWN at 09:22:42 Address:
2001-09-1110:30:37Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server bell DOWN at 09:22:45|Server bell DOWN at 09:22:45 Address: Inf
2001-09-1110:31:07Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP at 09:22:44|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP at 09:22:44 A
2001-09-1110:32:37Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton DOWN at 09:22:44|Server newton DOWN at 09:22:44 Address:
2001-09-1110:33:07Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server newton UP at 09:22:46|Server newton UP at 09:22:46 Address: Inf
2001-09-1110:34:37Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP at 09:22:43|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP at 09:22:43 A
2001-09-1110:35:37Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline DOWN at 09:22:42|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline DOWN at 09:22:
2001-09-1110:36:37Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Server volt DOWN at 09:22:42|Server volt DOWN at 09:22:42 Address: In
2001-09-1110:37:24Skytel[004702132]BALPHAr volt UP at 09:22:46|Server volt UP at 09:22:46 Address: Info 1
2001-09-1110:39:07Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP at 09:22:45|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP a
2001-09-1110:39:09Skytel[004702132]BALPHAt 09:22:45 A
2001-09-1110:40:37Skytel[004702132]BALPHAsupport@pconline.com|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP at 09:35:19|Router MRNet-msc-pcOnline UP at 09:35:19 A

These are the exact text messages that were sent by our automated monitoring system during that time.

I discovered that there were pages from multiple paging companies contained on the site.  So I doubt there was any leak at a paging company.  I know that pager messages are fairly easy to intercept but had no idea that there are folks out there archiving them.

But this is a great reminder of how you should be careful before sending any kind of confidential information in a page/text message.

I did not post a link to the site that I found these pages on because I do not want to help them get ranked higher in search engine results.  It should not be hard for you to find it if you want to go look for it yourself.


Visit my new blog…MyHackery.com

I am launching a new website:  http://www.MyHackery.com

Here I will be blogging about my various projects that I am working on.



Is the TSA qualified to do security???

This TSA stuff has really gone too far.

We are letting women show up at airports in only their under garments.  We are putting people through security checks that really create more of a disturbance than they do protect us.  And during all of this a guy is able to stand in one place and record video for over a minute in an area where you are not supposed to be interferring with the screening process.

Read the full USA Today article.


Unnamed sources in the New York Post article on May 3rd report that Apple may be under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and or the Department of Justice for antitrust practices.  The focus of the investigation is around Apple’s new policy for iPhone/iPad developers that require them to only use software development tools provided by Apple.

Specifically, here is an excerpt from the iPhone OS 4 developer agreement:

“applications may only use Documents APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs” and that “applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs.”

Is it wrong for Apple to try and protect the stability of their platform?  I know it may be a stretch to assume they have our best interests in mind.  But I have used a Windows Mobile phone in the past.  It is not pleasant when you have to reboot your phone several times per day just to make sure you can receive calls.  I have to reboot my iPhone once every 14-21 days.  And it is not because it just stops operating or hanging like my Windows Mobile phone has done in the past.  It is only because an app or two will start behaving strangely.

How is this any different from the development kits/agreements for console based video game systems?  The Wii, Xbox, and Playstation all require application developers to use their development kits and abide by their licensing to develop an application on their platforms.

If developers want freedom, encourage them to go develop apps on the Blackberry, Symbian, Android, Palm webOS or Windows Mobile.  If Apple was asking developers to sign exclusive agreements that state if an app is developed for the iPhone/iPad it cannot be also developed/distributed on these other platforms, then let’s unleash the FTC.  But for now, Apple should be allowed to ensure the stability of the platform.

Last time I checked there were plenty of other issues that seem a little more important for the government to be focusing on right now.

The views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent any of my current/past employers, friends, my wife, children, or my pets.


Stop paying too much for HDMI cables!

Nothing boils my blood like going into an electronics retailer and having them try to sell you over priced HDMI cables.  And when I try to reason with them that there is no difference in the higher priced cables I am amazed at how they will argue with you.  You need these $100 cables to get the higher refresh rates, you need this cable if you want surround sound, and this cable will give you deeper colors.  That is a bunch of crap.

HDMI is a digital transport.  It is all 1’s and 0’s.  Colors are not going to be “better” with one cable vs another.  Audio will not be “better” with a certain type of cable.  Bits (the 1’s and 0’s) will either flow or not which means that it will either work or not.

The quality of the cable is the key feature that you need to look for.  Cheap cables will disrupt the flow of 1’s and 0’s and you will have a bad experience.  But once you have a quality cable that passes bits, look no further – all cables will pass bits the same way after that point.  But we need to talk about speed next.

What you need to know is that as of my writing this article – there are only two categories (speeds) that HDMI cables are tested against.  This is kind of amazing as most retailers have at least 4 different types of HDMI cables for different uses.

  • Category 1 – Standard: Tested to perform at speeds of 75 Mhz or up to 2.25 Gbps – the equivalent of a 720p/1080i signal
  • Category 2 – High Speed: Tested to perform at speeds up to 340 Mhz or up to 10.2 Gbps – which can support 1080p signals including increased color depths and refresh rates.  This can also support WQXGA cinema monitors which support resolutions of 2560 x 1600.

There is nothing besides these two category ratings that would differentiate a cable from another cable (other than quality that I spoke of earlier).  Remember, it’s just 1’s and 0’s and a better cable will not make the colors brighter or the audio better.

Don’t let them tell you that a cable is HDMI 1.1 or HDMI 1.2 or HDMI 1.3.  These are the HDMI protocol versions themselves and do not have much to do with the cable.  HDMI 1.3 does require a Category 2/10.2 Gbps tested cable – but otherwise the cable does not care what version of HDMI you are using.  You just need to know what the cable was tested against – Category 1 – Standard or Category 2 – High Speed.

The electronics stores will try to tell you that your device needs a Category 2/High Speed interface.  The sales person at Best Buy told me when I was looking at a new DirecTV HR20 DVR that it was going to push 10.2 Gbps – however when I look at the documentation on their web site it clearly states that the HDMI interface is only a “Standard” interface.  I would like to say you should research your device to determine what type of cable you need – but that is way too much work.  Just read on and we will move way beyond all this technical stuff and make the case to buy inexpensive high speed cables all the time.

But don’t I get something for those $100 high-end HDMI cables that they try to sell me?  Sure.  You get fancy gold plated connectors, you get a braided sheath around your cable, you get fancy graphics on the cable, and some even come in really fancy packaging.  But that is quality right?  Maybe – but not quality that is going to affect performance.

So resist the pressure from the sales person, tell them there is nothing better about the more expensive cables, and refer them to this document if you have to.   Hopefully at this point I have discouraged you from spending $100 for an HDMI cable and you are now looking at the less expensive cables – cables that might be in the $30 range.  But spending $30 is even too much!

Buying HDMI cables is about planning ahead and being prepared.  You do not want to buy HDMI cables when you are at your electronics retailer holding that new Blu-Ray player in your arms and then you realize that you do not have another cable and you have to purchase one now.  Last time I was in Best Buy the least expensive 2 meter HDMI cable they had was $29.00.  If you go to their web site you will find one for $12.99 (2 meter) or $8.99 (1 meter) – but you will not find these in their stores.  Why will you not find the lower priced cables in the store? Because you need these cables when you buy your new HDMI device – you need the cable now.  You will buy the more expensive cable from them because you have to purchase it now.  Cables have some of the highest markups of anything in those stores.

Plan ahead.  Go to Amazon.com. There are a lot of HDMI cables on Amazon for under $10.  But I needed mine right away – so I purchased the Amazon Basics cables as they were shipped from Amazon (vs another retailer) and they could have them to me in 2 days.  What does a 2 meter Amazon Basics High Speed (Category 2) cable cost me? Not $100, not $69, not $29, and not even $12.99.  I paid $6.25.

I have been using these cables and they work great.  They are not gold plated (1’s and 0’s do not care about gold – save it for your jewelry), they do not have a braided sheath around them (they are just getting dusty behind my entertainment center), and they don’t have fancy graphics or packaging. But construction quality looks great and they work and who needs more than that?

Buy 4-6 of these Amazon Basics High Speed cables.  With shipping costs you will still spend about as much as you would have on one of the less expensive cables ($30-$50) at a retailer – but you will have them on hand when you need them.

If you want the fancy looking cables – go for it. One day I will build out my dream home theater system and pimp it out like a ’68 Chevy Impala.  But when that happens it becomes as much about the look as the function.  But for now, I am all about function.

Info at www.hdmi.org site.


The power of Apple…

In today’s Network World’s article, “Apple iSlate: IT pros ready to buy, if price is right“, author John Cox talks about how 40% of the 600 readers who responded to an online poll are ready to buy the new tablet when it is (expected) to be announced this Wednesday.  After reading this I am amazed by a few things:

  • 4 out of 10 surveyed are willing to purchase a product – sight unseen
  • another 2 out of 10 said they are leaning towards purchasing
  • 70% of those surveyed said the device would “either never or probably not deployed as an enterprise mobile platform” – again, sight unseen

It amazes me that so many people are talking about making a decision on a product that we have zero information about.  No pictures, no features, no price.  We do not even know what it is called.  Heck – they may announce a revival of the Apple II product line. 

Yet 60% of those surveyed are considering a purchase.  And another 70% have decided how the device would be deployed (or in this case not deployed) in their enterprise environment.  Again, without knowing anything about the product.

Marketing Masters

Let’s face it.  Apple is a master at marketing.  They have been since Anya Major (also famous for Elton John’s 1986 Nakita video – ok…I was crushing a bit back then) ran down the aisle with a hammer and through it at big brother during the 3rd quarter of the 1984 Super Bowl.

People anticipate the release of their new products like few other companies.  Sites buzz about rumors and Apple does a phenomenal job at keeping everything under wraps – furthering the frenzy that surrounds their products.  You can’t buy the type of free media coverage that their products create.

Superior Products/Design

Of course all of this would not be possible if their products were not great.  The Mac, the iPod, the iPhone.  These have all redefined the respective market segments.  They have raised the bar.  Not just in technical capabilities – but in how their user interfaces work.  They break molds and redefine how we use technology – making it easier for anyone to use.

Am I going to go out and purchase an iSlate, iTablet, iBoard, iWhateverYouCallIt?  Maybe.  I am a technology whore.  I am always one for being up on the latest and greatest technology.  Would I have answered “like totally” to the question of how likely I would be to buy this new product?  Naw.  I need to see it, understand what it is, and at least know what it is called.


Moving www.henninger.net

I am moving my network content at www.henninger.net to www.networkchatter.com.  The new site is hosted on MediaWiki which will give me a much better platform to host information.