Putting Credit Monitoring to the Test

13 07 2020

Ever wonder if credit monitoring services actually work? This weekend I applied for a new credit card and after being approved waited to see which credit monitoring service I had signed up for would actually inform me of the activity.

Within 60 seconds my phone lit up with notifications and texts and emails. I checked my phone, it was Credit Karma informing me a hard credit enquiry had been made in my name by CitiBank. Wow that was quick! Credit Karma is free to use, the speed of notification was amazing given its price.

One hour later my phone jumped into life again and this time it was Discover letting me know that a credit enquiry had been made in my name by CitiBank. I am a Discover Card holder and did sign up for their free credit monitoring service. They offered to provide verbal advise on next steps if this was a fraud in progress and provided a number to call. The discover credit monitoring service is free to all comers, you do not need to be a Discover Card holder.

The following day (a Monday) my phone jumped into life again and this time it was Lifelock, a identity protection service I subscribe to annually for $247.42 (plus applicable taxes). Lifelock have you access your dashboard and confirm if the activity is you or not. This is one difference to the free services, LifeLock want to know if the activity is legitimate, a step beyond informing you of the activity.

I find it interesting the paid for service took the longest, and the two free services were very quick. Regardless, notification within 24 hours is plenty quick to help protect your money and identity.

So why do I pay for a service if other services are equally good, or arguably faster than Lifelock? The free services inform you of activity and have useful help pages on what to do if someone tried to steal your identity. The onus is on you to navigate through an untraveled and uncertain path to restoration, recovering lost money is uncertain as well. Lifelock will take necessary actions to address any identity concerns and cover any financial losses up to One Million dollars as long as you do your part to keep them informed and be cooperative in the process.

In the final analysis all three services came through to ensure I know of any activity on my credit report. They all passed the test in my opinion.


What to do if your Moto X (2013) battery life suffers after upgrading to Lollipop 5.1

19 09 2015
Moto X Battery Life 2 1/2 Hours!! Click to enlarge

Moto X Battery Life 2 1/2 Hours!!
Click to enlarge

Verizon Wireless has finally rolled out Lollipop 5.1 android operating system to the Gen 1 2013 Moto X phones. The upgrade went without a hitch but I noticed my battery life was only 2 1/2 hours with very light use. I left the phone plugged in overnight but the next morning the problem was still present. The phone was noticeably hot to the touch as well. Something was keeping the phone’s CPU very busy.

After asking on Google+ if anyone else had seen this problem, many had. I received various pieces of advice ranging from ‘do nothing it will fix itself’, to ‘you’ll need to do a factory reset’.

The best advice I received was to clear the cache partition.

Not knowing how to do this I did some research, performed the operation and now I have a much better phone as a result. I now get 9-10 hours battery life with normal use. If you are having similar issues, here is how to do the same for your Moto X phone to restore the phone to normal operation. (The operation is non-destructive you do not lose any data, applications, call logs. It’s one of the safest remedies you can perform).

Clearing Your Cache Partition

Full instructions can be found at this website.

I suggest you visit the site, the author did a really nice job showing screen shots etc of how to do the cache clear operation. Just incase the website disappears one day here is a quick checklist of the steps one needs to perform.

Step 1:  Power off your phone.

Step 2. Access boot options

Press and hold the volume down button for 4-5 seconds first.  Do not release your finger from the volume down button!

While still pressing and holding the volume down button, now press and hold the power button for 4-5 seconds (you are pressing and holding two buttons now).

Then release your fingers from both the power and volume  buttons.

Step 3: Boot into recovery mode

In boot options page (as shown above), you have to:

use volume down button to navigate;

use volume up button to select, NOT the power button as you may assume.

Do not use power button in boot options page. It will reboot the phone.

Now use volume down button to move the cursor to Recovery, then press volume up button to make the selection.

The phone should now boot into recovery mode.

Step 4: Access recovery mode menu – (this can be tricky, the time you have the power button pressed is critical)

Once you get the dead Android, you must:

  1. press and hold power button for about 2-3 seconds. Don’t hold this for to long!!
  2. without releasing power button, press volume up button and quickly release the volume up button.
  3. quickly release the power button button.

If the phone reboots, it means you hold the power button too long. 

Step 5: Clear cache partition

In recovery mode menu, use volume down or volume up  button to navigate to “Wipe cache partition” .

Then use the Power button to select it. This is different from step 3.

After selecting the wipe cache partition, your phone will start to wipe all cache files in the cache partition. This operation can take 5 minutes or more so be patient. WHen it is complete it will return to the recovery mode menu.

Step 6: Reboot the phone

You can select Reboot system now from the recovery mode menu.

You can have any color you like as long as its cheap

1 11 2014
White is cheap.

White is cheap. Turquoise is expensive!

Google Chromebox is one of the cheaper computer options. One would expect the devices to be very utilitarian and no nonsense. However fashion has its price even with discount hardware.

At the time of writing a white HP Chromebox at $136 is $36 cheaper than a turquoise one with identical hardware inside. Why would someone looking for a cheap computer pay $36 for a color? Take a look at the Amazon listing and see what happens to the price when you select different color options.

Here are are the color options with pricing

White $136.76
Black $166.54
Turquoise $173.60

I’m all ears, let me know why you think this is!

2013 in review

1 01 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Windows service pack 1 takes 2 tries

22 03 2011

Microsoft are distributing Windows Service Pack 1 via Windows update. It is a massive download. On 3 of my PC’s I’ve seen downloads from 550mb to 890 MB.

On all my PC’s it failed after the initial download and install. Clicking on try again results in an additional download and the install then succeedes. It’s like the initial download forgets something.

So far so good after the upgrades. Other than the install glitch the upgrade works well.

Pre-Release version of Kindle 3 software available

21 09 2010

Amazon have posted a preview version of a software update for the Kindle latest generation. The software is available for a limited time. If you intend to update be sure to download before it is removed

The release fixes several issues including

  • Slow web-browsing
  • Slow page turns in bright sunlight.

I find it ironic that page turns with the current Kindle 3 are slower in bright sunlight, especially after Amazon’s latest TV ad poking fun at the iPad’s readability in bright sunlight. I’m sure they will release the software update as soon as possible to save getting too much egg on their face regarding the sunlight issue. I believe their TV Ad campaign is flawed, read more here.

.To learn more about the Kindle visit the Kindle product page

Microsoft finally turns away from XP

10 07 2010

Windows is dead, long live Windows!! It was sure to happen one day, and that day is here.

Microsoft have in beta the next version of the Live products such as Live Messenger, Live Photo Gallery etc. Windows XP is no longer supported, and furthermore Live Essentials 2010 Beta will not install on XP at all.

Click to enlarge graphic

I struggled installing the latest Beta on an XP computer and got an error that said the installation file was not a valid win32 application. When I visited Micrsofts website I saw that Vista is the oldest version of Windows this suite of products will run on. (It would be nice if the installer simply informed you that windows XP is no longer supported).

Click on image to enlarge

One reason XP has continued to be used for so long is that  it does what most people want from a computer and all applications run fine on it. Microsofts past plans to retire the product were met with resistance and they kept it alive, at least up to now. Live 2010 products will be the first Microsoft products to spurn XP. This is the first nail in the coffin for XP. As more applications from Microsoft and 3rd parties are released without the possibility to run on XP, the need and desire to upgrade will increase.

Office 2010 runs on XP, so corporations may still be able to put off upgrades for a while yet, home users will be the first pushed to make the upgrade since the Live products are targeted at them. The latest Live products have built in integration points with social networks like Facebook, so the desire to use the latest Live products will be compelling for many home users.

Moving off an 8 year old platform is advisable anyway IMHO. Windows 7 is a good OS and is worthy of taking up the reins from old faithful, Windows XP.

Update: 2010-09-17 IE9 Microsoft latest internet browser is in Beta. IE9 does not support Windows XP. The pressure to move off XP will build once people want to get the new features in the new browser.

SharePoint 2010 – Microsoft Presentation, Nashville TN.

9 12 2009

I attended the SharePoint Users Group meeting at Microsoft’s Nashville offices on December 8th 2009. Microsoft presented and sponsored the event. The Pizza was really good :-) The presentation was to introduce SharePoint 2010 to the user community highlighting new and improved features.

Microsoft could have spent more time in preparation and planning, there were delays due to technical glitches and the speaker did not cover all the subject areas he would like to have.

Here is what I learned.


SharePoint is exclusively a 64-bit application. It only runs on Server 2008 R2 and only supports SQL or SQL Express for content storage. The Windows Internal Database no longer exists, which is a good move. However it will pose an extra challenge for those upgrading from 2007/3 to 2010 if their data is in an internal database store. SharePoint can access  SQL ‘Remote Blob’ objects.

WSS has been renamed to WSF (Windows SharePoint Foundations). Foundations is the base SharePoint functionality included with Server 2008.

Search has been enhanced, phonetic ‘sounds-like’ matches are now returned.

SharePoint Designer 2010 is only compatible with SharePoint 2010, likewise Visual Studio 2010 only works with SharePoint 2010. Microsoft decided to sacrifice backwards compatibility to enable them to add a lot more features to the latest version of SharePoint.

Migration tools are available only for Moss 2007 servers. 2003 and previous versions will not be migrated directly from 2010 server administration.

New Licensing Options

In previous versions of SharePoint, making sites outward facing was an expensive proposition, requiring an expensive license. Two licenses are now offered for external facing sites. A lower cost license is available for sites that do not utilize enterprise features, for instance a publishing site. A higher cost enterprise feature set version is still available.

Better Browser Support

SharePoint 2010 support what Microsoft refer to as ‘Tier 1 Browsers’. This is Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. As an exclusive Firefox user this is especially welcome. I won’t need the IE Tab extension to Firefox anymore to work on SharePoint sites.

New Interface

Microsoft have adopted the ribbon in all office products including SharePoint 2010. (Interestingly the SharePoint product no longer has ‘Office’ in its official product name). The Ribbon is not always visible, they have chosen to reuse the space where the ribbon has less value, it is present for any operation that involves editing content or page configuration.

The Ribbon can be disabled/hidden for some or all users and sites. One reason Microsoft did this is to allow a company to upgrade their SharePoint server to 2010 but keep the 2007 look and feel allowing for training and adoption of the new interface in a gradual manner.

SharePoint designer is integrated as an option on the ribbon, no need to launch a separate application from the host desktop. SharePoint Designer has undergone major revision and its performance has been greatly increased.

Better Integration

Integration to Office 2010 products and the desktop has been improved. Colors, logos and fonts established as a master page in PowerPoint can be saved as a theme file (.thmx extension) and imported into SharePoint to provide the same look and feel on a  SharePoint site. This makes it much easier to create branded themes allowing users to create their own without involvement from IT.

A feature has been added to allow a user to make a local copy of a SharePoint site including all of its content. This can then be accessed offline and changes synchronized when back online. (It’s similar to Collegio Networks Collegio Reader). This sounds like a very useful feature for those that travel a lot, however when quizzed about security of data should a laptop be lost/stolen no specific solution was offered (except a vague mention of Group Policy). I suppose Bitlocker would be one way to protect the data, it would be nice for DRM and security features to be available with offline access.

SharePoint can now host office applications allowing for the creation/editing of office documents from inside a browser window. The functionality and look of the web based office apps is very close to the desktop products. A few features such as word art aren’t supported in the hosted mode. As long as licensing is addressed, it is now possible to offer full office functionality to computers that do not have any version of office installed locally. This is known as Office Web Applications (OWA). Oh boy, I thought OWA stood for Outlook Web Access, I suspect that Outlook will be rolled into the new Office Web Apps, it is an office application after all.

Content Editing

The new interface allows for formatting and editing of text and objects directly from the Ribbon, negating the need for a separate Rich Text web part. Any page on a SharePoint site can be modified as rich text. Several features demonstrated drew me to the conclusion that web parts as separate zones are being de-emphasized and reserved for specific purposes. Editing content is much more like using Word.

A new feature called ‘Notepad’ allows content contributors to add a separate set of comments attached to each page allowing for an ongoing dialog regarding the editing of the associated page content. This is very much like the ‘talk’ feature on Wikipedia.

Content types can be mized on the same page, for instance in a team site for example WIKI content can be created in-line simply by creating a link [[Link]] with double square parentheses and clicking on the new link to edit the wiki content. Wiki and non-wiki content can be interwoven on the same page.

Multiple users can edit the same document ina document library. Purportedly at the same time though this was not demonstrated.

Multimedia Support enhanced

Silverlight is suported directly in SharePoint. Inserting video and photo content into a  page is very straight forward using basic ribbon tools. No need to install special modules on the server and perform arcane web part manipulation to support video streaming. An end user can easily handle multi-media without IT intervention. While the adding and editing of multi-media content has undergone much needed improvement. Little improvement was evident in the consumption of multi-media content, such as photo galleries, or a jukebox for audio etc. Shame, that would have rounded it off nicely.

Better Dash-boarding / Business Intelligence.

Performance Point Server has been built directly into the SharePoint solution and is now called SharePoint Insights. SahrePoint can now therefore consolidate and analyze data in addition to simply presenting it.

Enhanced Personal Pages

Personal pages are laid out more logically. Organizational hierarchy documented in Active Directory is graphical represented in the Personal pages. I wish I had screen shots, the drill down approach to the organization hierarchy was very creative and intuitive. Microsoft have made a bigger emphasis on the community building capabilities  of SharePoint.

Improved Administration

The Central Administration pages have undergone usability testing and are much easier to navigate and are organized in a more logical manner. The concept of SSP’s has been removed from the architecture.