Off Topic

Virus False Positives: How Can You Be Sure?

Almost every time I write an article about some web site or perhaps about a Windows program that can be downloaded and installed on your computer, I will receive at least one email message or other report from someone saying something like, “I downloaded it but my anti-virus program says it has a virus or a trojan”

My response usually is, “Well, maybe…”

In many cases, the claim of a virus or trojan or other malware (malevolent software) is a so-called “false positive.” That is, the anti-virus program reported a problem that isn’t really there. In fact, there is no virus or other problem at all, but the anti-virus program thinks there is. All anti-virus programs will occasionally report “false positives.”

How do you determine the truth? Actually, there are several ways.

Note-taking Alternatives now that Evernote is More Expensive

This is a follow-up article to my earlier article of Changes to Evernote’s Pricing Plans at Several people at the AndroidCental web site have listed their favorite note-taking programs that are competitors to Evernote. If you are thinking of switching from Evernote to something else, look at

I looked at the list and have tried every one of the suggested apps. I decided I will stay with Evernote. However, you might reach a different conclusion.

Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related information, I suggest you skip this article.

paperlessIf you have been reading this newsletter for a while, you probably already know that I am a fanatic for going paperless. Life without paper is great! Also, life without paper can save a lot of time and frustration when later trying to locate and retrieve items.

Genealogist – Proving Once and For All that Insanity is Hereditary

I just had to share this ad I saw on Amazon. There is truth on this t-shirt! You can get one for yourself at


Vanessa Gunn Cancer Fund

This has nothing to do with genealogy but it is a good cause for a humanitarian project. I would like to “spread the word” and will invite you to do likewise. Quoting from GoFundMe at

A few months ago, our friends Hudson and Vanessa Gunn happily welcomed a new baby boy, Jackson, into their family. Unfortunately, as a complication of the pregnancy, Vanessa developed a rare form of fast-growing cancer called Choriocarcinoma, starting as a tumor in the uterus. It would have likely been caught sooner, however, doctors failed to catch it in it’s earlier stages.

Vanessa Gunn Cancer Fund

When they found the tumor it was baseball sized. By the time it was removed the next day, it had grown to the size of a softball. Because it is such a fast growing and moving cancer it is categorized as stage four and has already spread from the uterus to the lungs and lymph nodes. Vanessa’s heart and respiration have also been affected. Chemotherapy was started immediately after the tumor was removed and will hopefully stop further growth.

Google’s Project Fi Cell Phone Service Is Now Available Without an Invitation

Note: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy and history articles, I suggest you skip this one. However, this article reflects one of my other interests: telecommunications, especially low cost or no cost telephone services. I feel that we are being “ripped off” by telephone companies and by cell phone companies. A few companies offer much cheaper services that work just as well as the services from the big conglomerates. If you are interested in reducing your present telephone expenses, you may be interested in this article.

ProjectFi_logoI have written before about Google’s Project Fi, a very-low-cost cell phone service that works without roaming fees in more than 120 countries. I have been using Project Fi for several months and love it. After using Project Fi for a few weeks, I canceled my prior AT&T cell phone service that cost about $85 a month (that price included some options, such as tethering). Even better, Project Fi is a pre-pay service with no contracts; you can cancel at any time.

The new cell service from Google used to be by invitation only. However, that changed today. Now anyone can sign up for immediate access to Google Fi, according to an announcement from Jake Leichtling, Project Fi Product Manager, at!topic/project-fi/FFqtY-laeFE. The company also announced the deepest discount ever on the Nexus 5X cell phone. If you buy the phone through Project Fi and activate it, you can get the normally $349 Nexus 5X for just $199. The offer is valid from today until April 7, 2016.

January 25 is Robert Burns Day So Let’s Eat Vegetarian Haggis

The great Scottish poet Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759. In celebration of his birthday, Burns Suppers range from formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to very informal dinners throughout Scotland and in restaurants and the homes of Scottish descendants worldwide. Most Burns Suppers adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honored form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.

NOTE: American and Irish liquor producers spell it as WHISKEY, while Canadian, Scottish, and Japanese producers usually spell it without an “e”: WHISKY.

Almost anyone can enjoy a Burns Night celebration. All that’s needed is a place to gather, plenty of haggis and neeps to go around, a master of ceremonies, friendly celebrants, and good Scotch drink to keep you warm.

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot

NOTE #1: This article has nothing to do with genealogy but I will suggest that all owners of cell phones should be aware of the hotspot capabilities of their phones.

Note #2: This is an update of an article I published about 18 months ago. The cell phone business has changed since then and some of the information in the old article was no longer accurate. I updated the information to make it current and am republishing it now.

Would you like to access the web with your laptop or tablet computer while at a library or archive or most any other location? If a wi-fi network is available, that is easy to do. However, what do you do when you are not in range of a wi-fi connection? If you have a cell phone, there is an easy answer: tether the cell phone.

Tethering allows sharing the Internet connection of the cell phone with other devices, such as laptops.

How to Safely Send Secret E-mail Messages

“Don’t send your credit card number in an e-mail message!” How many times have you heard that statement? Many times, I hope.

tutanotaI have written an article entitled How to Safely Send Secret E-mail Messages that provides suggestions. Since it is not a genealogy topic, I won’t publish it in this newsletter. However, if you have an interest in email security, I would suggest you read the article in my other online publication, the Privacy Blog, at

Use Dropbox on Your Chromebook and Add it to File Manager

I have written a number of times about Chromebooks. Click here to find my past Chromebook articles. These low-cost laptop computers are great for many purposes even though they do not have many genealogy apps. Chromebooks can save files and documents in any of several cloud file storage services or in the Chromebook’s internal hard drive or in a Secure Digital memory card or in a flashdrive or other external storage device that connects via the USB connector.

The Chromebook’s default is to use Google Drive for storage. Many people prefer Dropbox. Of course, you can always use Dropbox’s web interface at but now there is an easier way.


File System for Dropbox is a free Chrome app that integrates your Dropbox files right into Chrome OS’s file manager. I just installed it on my Chromebook and found it is easy to use, faster than using the Dropbox web interface, and it quickly finds files by using the Chromebook’s SEARCH option.

Future Facts of a Wireless World in 2025

Karma_logoKarma has published an interesting article that predicts the future of telephones, cellular phones, the Internet, wireless data, cable television, and more. In fact, the article predicts that all these things will combine into one service that includes all those services and more. The prediction also claims that prices will be much, much cheaper in ten years than they are today. I tend to believe that as cell phones and high-speed Internet connections are much cheaper today than they were ten years go.

Admittedly, Karma is a bit biased as the company provides very low-cost cellular phone and data services today. Even so, I found the article to be interesting reading.

Some of the ideas offered include:

Microsoft Skype Simplifies Group Video Chats

Want to have a “family get-together” online or a meeting of the Board of Directors of your genealogy society, even if the participants are separated by long distances? Skype has offered group video chats for some time but it was always a bit awkward to set up such a chat and to invite others to join in. Now the process has been simplified.

Skype for Windows, Skype for Mac or Skype for Web users can generate a unique URL and send it to others, enabling them to join a group and start chatting. The recipients don’t have to be Skype users; they can receive the URL via email, Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and/or other channels.

The new chat-invitation feature enables group instant-messaging chats, voice chats and/or video chats.

An Easy Way To Send Confidential Information Online

One of my interests is security and today I wrote An Easy Way To Send Confidential Information Online. However, it is not a genealogy article so I will not publish it in this genealogy newsletter. If you have an interest in sending secure email messages, you might want to read my article in the PrivacyBlog at

Avoid Advertising Email Messages with 10 Minute Mail

Did you ever give your email address to a web site in order to retrieve some information and then the site bombards you with advertising messages for weeks? Yes, me too. There is one rather unique tool that will reduce the filling of your in-box: 10 Minute Mail

10MinuteMail is a secure, temporary email service. This means that it lets you have a private email address that anyone can send mail to. The email message and the address both self-destruct in 10 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about SPAM or anything like that.

Never Pay For Mobile Phone Service Again

Note: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy and history articles, I suggest you skip this one. However, this article reflects one of my other interests: telecommunications, especially low cost or no cost telephone services. I feel that we are being “ripped off” by telephone companies and by cell phone companies. A few smaller companies offer much cheaper services that work just as well as the service from the big conglomerates. If you are interested in reducing your present telephone expenses, you may be interested in this article.

Scratch Wireless is a new start-up that claims to be offering free mobile phone service. In fact, it will be free for many people but I would prefer to call it “free or low-cost” mobile phone service (after purchasing a $99 mobile phone). Let me explain…

The Scratch Wireless service uses Wi-Fi whenever possible. Scratch refers to that as “Wi-Fi First.” However, if there is no Wi-Fi around, the mobile phone will (optionally) use the Sprint nationwide cell phone network as a back up. The phone only uses cellular to fill the gaps. Even then, the use of cellular connections is optional: the Scratch Wireless customer may elect to fall back to (paid) cellular service or to only use free wi-fi connections.

Use a Secure (and FREE) Computer for Banking and all other Finances

If you have been reading this newsletter for some time, you probably already know that I am very concerned about online security and privacy. If you are also interested in similar topics and especially if you want to keep your banking, credit card, and stock brokerage transactions private, you might be interested in an article I wrote entitled, Use a Secure (and FREE) Computer for Banking and all other Finances. Since it is not genealogy-related, I published the article on my other blog, the Privacy Blog, at

Lost in the Fifties – Another Time, Another Place

How many of these things do you remember?

(I like that Thunderbird!)

If the above video did not display in your web browser, go to


Free or Nearly Free Cell Phone and Wi-Fi Telephone Calls

Earlier this week, I published a brief article in this newsletter (at about a new cell phone service from Google. I mentioned that I thought it was overpriced at $20 to $30 a month or more. For more than two years, I have been using a similar service from a small-time cellular service provider that provides essentially the same service. I usually pay $10 a month for unlimited voice minutes and text messages but occasionally upgrade to $25/month for a week or two when traveling and expect to use the wireless data plan frequently. When I return home, I then “downgrade” to $10/month again. The service has proven to be very reliable and I am happy with it.

I also found this to be a great tool for placing free calls back home when traveling internationally, instead of paying the normal, outrageous international roaming charges often associated with using cell phones when traveling in foreign countries. I used this cell phone several times last week while in England to call back to my family in the U.S. at no charge.

Google’s new Project Fi: A low-cost Cell Phone Service

As rumored for months, Google today announced its new cell phone service. At first glance, it looks good and is very low-priced compared to the major U.S. cell phone providers. However, a comparison shows that several of the low-cost cellular providers already offer better deals.

Google’s new cell phone service, called Project Fi, is not yet available to everyone. It is available only in an invitation-only basis. Next, it works only on Google’s (expensive) Nexus 6 Android phone. It will not work with any other cell phone. Service will be made available through both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.

The big advantage of Project Fi is that it marries together normal cell phone networks and wi-fi networks. When you’re connected to wi-fi, for example, all of your voice and data activities will use that network. If you are not in range of a wi-fi network, the software in the cell phone automatically switches the call and data to Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks. The service costs $20 per month for unlimited voice minutes. If you want data, you will be charged an additional $10 per gigabyte that you use.

In other words, it works just like the cheaper cell phone service that Republic Wireless has offered for more than two years now.

Why You Need a Temporary Credit Card Number

This may not be a genealogy issue but it certainly is important for security and peace of mind.

One of the things I detest about many web sites is that when you sign up for a subscription and pay with a credit card, the site automatically renews your subscription when it expires. Some web sites will automatically renew without even the courtesy of notifying you in advance. They keep on billing, and you cannot easily shut down the offending vendor.

Of course, you could cancel the credit card itself, but that usually isn’t convenient.

Another risk, although rare, is that someone might obtain your credit card number surreptitiously and make illegal charges against it. While all online charges are insured by the credit card companies so that you will never lose any money, going through the process of filing a claim and getting your money back can be inconvenient, at best. I think it is better to stop such an illegal transaction BEFORE it occurs.

Luckily, these problems are easily prevented if you take appropriate steps in advance.


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