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Tuesday
Sep122017

/ How to Unsubscribe From Unwanted Email

Chances are, your email inbox is a mix of important messages, Amazon Prime shipping notices, bill alerts, and other easy-to-ignore offers.

But spam creeps in. Sometimes you do it yourself—enter your email address to win that contest!—and sometimes others do it for you. Thanks for the blank­of-the-month club email list, mom.

Luckily, there are easy ways to kill unwanted emails, and they don't involved sending invective-filled rants to the sender.


Unsubscribe Links Made Easy

The cleanest way to get off a list is to use the built-in unsubscribe option. That link is generally buried at the bottom of the message, in tiny type or made to not even look like a link, all the better to keep you subscribed.

(The chance that the unsubscribe link is a tricka way to confirm you are a real person—is low. Be smart about it; if something looks fishy, just delete.)

Gmail makes it easy to unsubscribe on the desktop. Whenever it notices a working unsubscribe link in a message, it puts its own unsubscribe link at the top of the message, right next to the address of the sender's email. Click it and a giant Unsubscribe button appears.

It's a little harder on mobile. In the Gmail for iOS, the only option at this point is to mark a message as spam; tap the three dots on the top right > Report spam. On Android, touch the menu; if the sender offers an easy unsubscribe option, the word Unsubscribe will appear on the menu.

Prominent unsubscribe links are also found on Outlook.com and the Outlook apps as well. On the web, it says "Getting too much email? Unsubscribe" at the top of a supported message.

On the built-in iOS Mail app, look for a banner reading "This message is from a mailing list. Unsubscribe" atop your messages, which will email the sender with the unsub request.

Email (aka Edison Mail) for iOS and Android both show a large Unsubscribe button at the top of a message and an animation to indicate the request is placed.

What's interesting is, looking at the same messages with Gmail on the desktop and mobile, Email, and other apps with a more prominent unsub option shows that they don't all recognize the links the same way, nor even support it within the same messages.

At least when you're on the mobile apps like Email, which supports multiple services (usually Gmail, Outlook, iCloud, Yahoo, and IMAP accounts), you can unsubscribe across all the services.


Unsubscribe Services

Want to unsubscribe from mail in a big batch? Several services make it possible. The downside: you have to give these services complete access to your inbox for them to find messages with an unsubscribe option; sometimes that includes your contacts. Like Heinlein said: TANSTAAFL.

Unsubscriber

This is as simple as it gets. Put your email address in at GetUnsubscriber.com and the service sticks an Unsubscriber folder/label in your inbox. Drag messages you no longer want into that folder, and Unsubscriber will filter messages out until the unsub request goes through. It works with any email provider, though the site includes quick links for Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, and Aol.

It's free to use, but the service states up front "we collect and share certain information about non-personal email messages (e.g., commercial emails)." The company behind Unsubscriber, Return Path, also offers an extension for Google Chrome called Whisker, which manages unwanted email (including spam).

Unroll.me

Available on the web, or via an iOS app, Unroll.me looks into the heart of your Outlook.com, Gmail/GSuite, Yahoo Mail, and Aol account to locate messages you probably don't want. You can also try an email address from another service.

In return, you get a list of all the senders you could nix; pick the ones you don't want, and Unroll.me does the rest. It also offers a service called The Rollup so you can re-subscribe to select mailings, but they'll get funneled to you via Unroll.me in a daily digest. You can edit (or deactivate) The Rollup any time.

Unroll.me is free, but it does want full access to your messages and contacts. Its parent company, Slice Technologies, says it ignores personal email and anonymizes the messages it sees, but it's using all of the data it can to sell market research based on users.

Unlistr

Remember when companies dropped the "e" before the "r" to make a name? Unlistr does!

There is no web-based interface; Unlistr has a free Android app and a $20 add-on for Outlook (the one in Office, not Outlook.com). You sign up using your email account—any that supports IMAP/POP accounts, plus Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook.com), and others. Essentially, if you know the incoming and outgoing server settings, it should work. You get a list of senders to unsubscribe from all at once.

Unlistr does all its processing locally on your smartphone, keeps messages encrypted, and avoids trying to un-sub you from known spammers so you won't get more. It doesn't currently collect any information, according to the FAQ.

Tuesday
Sep122017

Heading to Best Buy to purchase a new software security suite? Don't plan on getting one from Kaspersky Lab, because you won't find it there.

As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Best Buy decided to pull Kaspersky products from its store shelves amid media and US government suspicion about the security firm's link to the Russian government. A Kaspersky Lab spokesperson confirmed the breakup in a Tuesday statement to PCMag.

"Kaspersky Lab and Best Buy have suspended their relationship at this time," the company wrote.

The move comes after Bloomberg in July cited internal Kaspersky Lab emails when reporting that the security vendor "maintained a much closer working relationship with Russia's main intelligence agency, the FSB, than it has publicly admitted" — a claim Kaspersky denied.

"Kaspersky Lab, and its executives, do not have inappropriate ties with any government," the Moscow-based company said in a July statement. "The company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole purpose of fighting cybercrime."

Around the same time, the Trump administration removed Kaspersky Lab from two lists of approved vendors from which government agencies can purchase technology equipment. The move was reportedly driven by "concerns its products could be used by the Kremlin to gain entry into US networks."

Kaspersky said its CEO and Founder Eugene Kaspersky "repeatedly offered to meet with government officials, testify before the US Congress, and provide the company's source code for an official audit to help address any questions the US government has."

Best Buy declined to comment on the matter when contacted by PCMag, saying: "we don't comment on contracts with specific vendors."

Kaspersky, meanwhile, said its relationship with Best Buy "may be re-evaluated in the future."

"Kaspersky Lab has enjoyed a decade-long partnership with Best Buy and its customer base, and Kaspersky Lab will continue to offer its industry-leading cybersecurity solutions to consumers through its website and other retailers," the company wrote.

The falling out with Best Buy comes after Kaspersky just ended a feud with Microsoft. The antivirus maker had filed suit against Microsoft in Russia and Europe, claiming the Redmond tech giant disabled and removed its antivirus software during a Windows 10 upgrade. Kaspersky dropped the suit last month as Microsoft announced a series of changes to ensure third-party cybersecurity products will no longer face compatibility issues on Windows 10.

 

Tuesday
Aug292017

Tech support scam victims lost $120 million—and will get $10 million back

Victims of a tech support scam are about to get refunds, but on average they will recover less than 10 percent of what they lost.

The Federal Trade Commission is sending e-mails to victims of the scam with instructions on how to claim a partial refund, the agency said today. Scam victims will have until October 27 of this year to apply for a refund.

The case stems from November 2014, when the FTC announced that "a federal court has temporarily shut down two massive telemarketing operations" that raked in more than $120 million "by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services."

The FTC later won big court judgments against the companies involved, but the defendants didn't have enough money left to pay up. One monetary judgment of $29.5 million was suspended because of the defendants' financial condition.

But the FTC was able to recover $10 million in a December 2016 settlement with defendants including Inbound Call Experts, a company also known as Advanced Tech Support. A previous settlement with companies accused of generating leads for the telemarketers brought in $258,000.

The FTC did not say exactly how many people will get refunds or what the typical refund amount will be. But the FTC today said that Advanced Tech Support's victims number in the "hundreds of thousands."

People who bought products and services from Advanced Tech Support between April 2012 and November 2014 are eligible for refunds.

The online application to apply for refunds is available at this FTC webpage. The FTC also suggests calling the refund administrator at 877-793-0908.

False claims of viruses and malware

The defendants who paid $10 million "used high-pressure sales pitches to market tech support products and services by falsely claiming that people’s computers were infected with viruses and malware," the FTC said today.

"The company used online ads, search results, and partnerships with software developers to lure consumers to call Advanced Tech Support," the FTC said. Once victims called, telemarketers urged them to sign up for bogus technical support subscriptions and services that sometimes cost hundreds of dollars, the FTC said.

The defendants are allowed to continue doing business, but the settlement prohibits them from lying about performance or security problems on people's computers. "Under the order, a federal judge will appoint a monitor to oversee the defendants' business for two years, at the defendants' expense," the FTC said when it announced the settlement.

Still another set of defendants was ordered to pay $36.4 million, but the judgments were partially suspended due to the defendants' lack of money. A settlement in that case required the defendants to relinquish all of their assets.

Despite the multiple cases and settlements, an FTC spokesperson confirmed to Ars that $10 million is the total amount available for refunds.

Beware of government impersonators

People receiving messages about refunds should be careful, because some fraudsters impersonate government agencies in order to get more money from victims.

"You never have to pay to get a refund in an FTC case. Anyone who asks you to pay for a refund is a scammer," the FTC said. Such scammers should be reported to the FTC.

The FTC's e-mails about refunds for tech support scam victims will come from subscribe@subscribe.ftc.gov and contain a claim number and PIN that will let recipients apply for refunds. The settlement required defendants to provide customer information to the FTC, letting the agency identify people who are due refunds.

Tuesday
Aug292017

Amazon Music Unlimited now has a discount for impoverished students

It’s the time of year again when students head back to their hallowed halls of learning, and retail outlets the country over make an extra-special effort to sell them things. Back-to-school normally also brings some new promotions for students, and Amazon is making now exception for its digital offerings.

Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon’s streaming music rival to Spotify and Apple Music, is now $5 a month for students. That’s a worthwhile discount over the $8 a month it is for Prime customers, and 50% off the $10 a month that regular non-Amazon-lovers get charged.

Amazon Music Unlimited has always seemed like a bit of an afterthought, a “me-too” lite version of Spotify and Apple Music. It doesn’t have the iPhone hook-in that Apple can leverage, and it can’t match Spotify’s quality of apps or exclusive music.

But for people who just want to listen to a good (not comprehensive) collection of stuff on one or two easy devices, it’s a good and cheap alternative to Spotify. If you’ve got an Amazon Echo, it works flawlessly with that, and that’s likely what Amazon is hoping for here.

Amazon Music Unlimited pricing is now right on par with Spotify and Apple Music for students. Amazon has become increasingly competitive with its digital offerings in the last year, releasing big-name original shows like Man In The High Castle to Amazon Video, and just today, it finally added multi-room music support to the Echo system.

Friday
Aug252017

10 ways to make your phone's battery last longer

Let's face it, at this point in your life, there are few things more important than your phone. That's why keeping it alive is more important than ever.

But with Hurricane Harvey, the first Category 3 hurricane that's forecast to hit the US in 12 years, touching down in Texas, potentially thousands of homes face the prospect of losing power. That's bad news for power-hungry smartphones, many of which can barely last a day with normal use.

Fear not. This handy phone survival guide will help you make the most out of your battery. If a power outage hits, you'll know exactly what to do to ensure you remain connected.

Turn off the extra wireless connections 

Your phone has a myriad of different connections, few of which are really that integral during a blackout. Wireless connections such as Bluetooth and WiFi are great during a regular day, but they can quickly drain a battery. In power-saving situations, GPS is also a no no, and disabling location services is another smart move.

Resist the urge to check your phone

For most of us, the smartphone is the equivalent of a drug -- one you can't quit. Well, a blackout is a good chance to go cold turkey. It's smart to limit the use as much as possible. Each time you turn on the display, you're cutting into the phone's battery life.

Share phones

If you're with a group of people, it might be useful to shut off all but one of the phones. That way, if one goes down, someone else can turn on a phone that still has a full charge. Of course, it might be handy to take down some critical phone numbers before turning off the devices.

Switch to airplane mode

If you don't want to completely shut off your phone, switch to airplane mode to shut off all of the radios, and switch back out of airplane mode only when you need to make a call or send a text message.

Keep your phone plugged in before a blackout hits

If you still have power and are looking to limit your usage already, why not let your phone rest near an outlet? When the power goes out, you'll know your phone is holding as much of a charge as it possibly can.

Charge backups

If you're lucky enough to have a phone with a swappable battery, as well as an extra battery, make sure that backup is fully charged before a blackout hits. Alternatively, a fully charged laptop can also be used as a battery of sorts, since it can charge a phone through a USB connection.

Disable push notifications

Most smartphones are hooked up to one e-mail account or another, and these devices either get messages pushed down to them or they fetch the e-mails. You can save a lot of battery by turning off the push notifications. 

Take a break from streaming

If you have to listen to music or video, don't use streaming services, which constantly puts a strain on the phone's battery. Only play videos or songs already loaded on the phone. Likewise, try not to play games that require a connection, like "Pokemon Go" or "Candy Crush Saga," or games that require phones to rev up their processors, such as the "Infinity Blade" series.

Dim the display

Displays often take up the most power, particularly if the phone has a large and bright screen. Most phones have an automatic brightness option, though you could manually dim the screen to preserve battery. Lock the phone and turn off the display as much as possible.

Send text messages instead of calling

Because of the nature of text messages, the conversation is usually kept short and concise. Phone calls can drag on, sucking up valuable battery life, but a text message gets the information out far more efficiently, and isn't constantly running.

Friday
Aug252017

Here's everything that's included with Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is best known for two things: free two-day shipping and Netflix-style video streaming. Those are decidedly worthwhile perks, especially considering the $99 annual subscription charge, but a Prime membership affords more than just shipping and streaming. A lot more.

Here's a look at every single benefit included with Prime -- along with a few Amazon services you might think are included, but actually cost extra.

The complete list of Prime perks is surprisingly long, starting with everyone's favorite:

Free two-day shipping (or better)

Many, if not most, of Amazon's physical goods will be shipped to your door in two days -- provided you live in the contiguous US (sorry, Hawaiians). What's especially remarkable about this is there's no minimum order: Even if you buy a $5 HDMI cable, it'll arrive in 48 hours. In fact, residents of some ZIP codes can enjoy same-day delivery at no extra charge, so as long as the order totals at least $35.

Not in a rush? Very often you can opt to forgo two-day delivery in exchange for credit that can be applied to digital purchases (ebooks, movie rentals, etc.). Look for this option on the checkout page where you select your shipping option.

Free release-date delivery

Suppose you preorder a new book from your favorite author or a hot new tech product. As a Prime subscriber, you'll receive that item on the exact day it's released -- not two days later. Only certain items are eligible, of course.

Free two-hour delivery

Prime Now takes things hyper-local, delivering groceries, restaurant food and other items in just two hours -- or within one hour for an extra $7.99. As of this writing, however, Prime Now is available in just a handful of cities.

Free (or flat-rate) grocery and household item delivery

Toilet paper, dog food, shampoo, your favorite cereal -- Prime Pantry will deliver these and other goods (pretty much anything that doesn't require refrigeration) for free. However, you need to order a minimum of five "qualifying" items, otherwise there's a flat $5.99 delivery charge.

Restaurant delivery

Amazon is currently test-driving restaurant delivery (use your Zip code to see if it's available in your area), with the promise of easy ordering, real-time delivery tracking and no menu markups. However, it's not immediately clear if delivery is free with Prime or just available with Prime.

Whole Foods discounts

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods markets will soon take on special significance for Amazon Prime members.

Getty Images

Following Amazon's acquisition of the grocery chain, you'll be able to score exclusive discounts both in-store and on Amazon.com. At this writing, we don't have specifics, but according to Amazon's press release: "Amazon Prime will become Whole Foods Market's customer rewards program, providing Prime members with special savings and other in-store benefits." And Amazon proper will start selling 365 Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Whole Catch products.

Unlimited video streaming

Prime Video is akin to Netflix, offering movies, TV shows and original content. It's accessible on virtually all mobile devices and most streaming sticks and boxes (the notable exception being Apple TV ($147.59 at Buy.com)). However, Prime has one huge ace up its sleeve: many TV shows, and some movies, can be downloaded to your phone or tablet for offline viewing.

Limited music streaming

Amazon Prime Music affords unlimited, ad-free access to a song library stocked with over 2 million tracks. You can stream them to various devices, but songs can also be downloaded to your phone or tablet for offline listening.

Prime Music should not be confused with Amazon Music Unlimited (see "What's not included with Amazon Prime," below), which offers a much larger library (think: Spotify), but costs extra. Prime subscribers do get a break on the price, though.

Unlimited photo storage

Much like Google, Amazon Prime offers subscribers unlimited cloud storage for photos. For most users that means using the Amazon Drive app to upload pictures from phones and tablets, but there's also a desktop app (for Windows and Mac) that can archive photos from your hard drive.

In addition, Prime Photos gives you 5GB of storage for documents and videos.

Access to Amazon Elements

Created primarily with parents in mind, Elements offers an array of baby products that meet various quality and transparency standards.

Access to Amazon Dash

You've probably seen Amazon's little product-branded buttons, which let you reorder various consumables (paper towel, laundry detergent and so on) with just one press. Each button costs $4.99, and each product order costs whatever it costs, but you need to be Prime subscriber if you want to use Dash at all.

Early access to Lightning deals

Amazon's Lightning deals run for limited time and/or while supplies last. If you're a Prime subscriber, you get access to those deals 30 minutes ahead of non-subscribers.

One free e-book per month

As part of your Prime subscription, you get access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which lets you check out one e-book per month and read that book on any Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet. The catch: This particular library offers a relatively small selection; don't expect a lot of new titles or bestsellers.

One free e-book per month, part 2

Each month, Amazon Prime subscribers get to pick a free ebook as part of the Kindle First program.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

It's called Kindle First, and it works like this: Each month, Amazon editors curate six new, yet-to-be-released books and give Prime subscribers the chance to pick one of them -- for free. And it's for keeps, too; you're not just borrowing the book.

Free books and magazines

Amazon's new Prime Reading feature differs from the Lending Library in a few key ways. First, it's not limited to Kindles: You can access the catalog of free e-books on phones, tablets and anything else capable of running a Kindle app. Second, the selection includes not only books, but also a rotating selection of magazines, comics, travel guides, Kindle Singles and more.

Free audiobooks

Kind of like Prime Reading for audiobooks, Audible Channels for Prime (a $60-per-year value, according to Amazon) gives you unlimited access to a selection of original audio series and select audiobooks. Just keep in mind these are limited to streaming; you can't download them for offline listening.

Ad-free Twitch

Hardcore gamers know all about Twitch, which lets users watch and share game videos. If you link your Prime subscription to your Twitch account, you get an ad-free viewing experience, along with one free Twitch channel per month and exclusive discounts on game purchases.

Odds and ends

Amazon Prime lets you add premium video subscriptions -- Starz, Showtime, and so on -- to your Prime Video viewing umbrella. (Alas, you don't get any discounts compared with purchasing those subscriptions separately.) As part of Amazon Family, you can score 20 percent of diaper purchases via Subscribe & Save and 15 percent of eligible products in your baby registry. And speaking of family, you're allowed to extend your membership to one additional adult living in your house.

What's not included with Amazon Prime

That's an awful lot of Prime goodness. However, a smattering of Amazon services aren't included with your subscription. Here's a look at what costs extra -- and how much extra.

Amazon Fresh

Although Prime does offer both grocery and local deliveries, Amazon Fresh -- currently available in only a handful of regions -- does not fall under that umbrella. Rather, the service is its own entity, promising same-day or next-day delivery from local grocery stores.

Just recently, Amazon eliminated the $299 up-front fee for a Fresh subscription; now it costs $14.99 monthly, though you must be a Prime subscriber to get it. (That means it still costs around $250 outright to get the service.)

Kindle Freetime Unlimited

A subscription service designed expressly for ages 3-12, Freetime Unlimited curates kid-friendly apps, e-books, games, movies, TV shows and more. It's compatible with Kindles, Fire tablets and the Fire TV, and it includes parental controls for things like setting time limits, adjusting content filters and reviewing any photos taken with the tablet.

You don't need to have a Prime subscription to get Freetime Unlimited, but it's cheaper: $2.99 per month for one child or $6.99 per month for up to four children. If you don't have Prime, the service costs $4.99 and $9.99, respectively.

Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited appears to combine Prime Reading and Audible Channels, putting them together as a separate, standalone service. Thus you get access to a limited library of ebooks, magazines and audiobooks, all of which you can access on desktop and mobile devices.

However, the math makes no sense: Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month, the same price you'd pay for a full-blown Amazon Prime subscription.

Music Unlimited

Amazon's answer to Apple Music, Spotify and the like gives you access to "tens of millions" of songs -- far more than you get from Prime Music. If you already have a Prime subscription, Music Unlimited costs $7.99 per month -- a few dollars less than what the competition charges. However, a family plan makes it $14.99 per month whether you're a Prime subscriber or not, and that doesn't represent any savings over the competition. Indeed, you might want to investigate whether Amazon Music Unlimited is good deal before adding it to your account.