šŸ“· Who’s Watching You, AMD Ryzen Above Intel, Night Mode Bad

Policy Update

First, we’ve updated a few of our non-retainer service terms. Don’t worry, we’ve taken the time to make them easy to understand. Click here!

Security Camera
Screen capture of surveillance image.
Actual photo. Image Credit: Dio-V

That’s Not My House!

Chinese electronics company Xiaomi (pronounced: shao-mi) recently found itself in hot water over a recent ‘mix up’ which caused an undetermined number of users’ security camera feeds to be streamed to the wrong accounts. The first account of this behavior was reported by Reddit user “Dio-V” who wrote that by checking the camera feed on his Google Nest Hub device, he observed stills from office spaces, living rooms, and even children’s bedrooms. The issue appears limited to the Mijia brand of surveillance cameras, specifically the very affordable Mijia 1080P model which integrates with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

In response, Google has disabled Xiaomi’s connection to Assistant, no changes to Alexa have been reported at this time. But just in case, it might be worthwhile to disconnect or disable these cameras until a fix is announced.

AMD “Ryzen” Above Intel

If you’ve noticed notebooks and PCs priced $100-$200 lower than usual, chances are they contain a chip from AMD known as Ryzen (rye-zen). For almost two decades, the ubiquitous “Intel Inside” or “i5”, or “i7” stickers could be found on nearly all OEM machines. But as of late 2019, some eagle-eyed shoppers noticed a different sticker in place of the aforementioned. In fact, we receive several calls every day regarding the reputation of this apparent newcomer “Ryzen”. We are happy to report the latest range of CPUs from AMD are the real deal.

Our Intel based editing machine from 2008 stickered for ~$5k, shod with a Xeon W3680 CPU. The processor had six processing cores (12 threads) and kept pace with modern variants for a decade. The Xeon was replaced with a Ryzen 3900X, which has 12 processing cores (24 threads) for less than $500, reliably doubling our output for far less money.

Competition is a good thing. It boosts innovation while driving down cost. In all cases the consumer wins. Intel has not successfully supplanted AMD’s recent success. Since Q3 of 2019, Intel brought several refreshes of existing hardware, coupled with price-cutting to preserve market share. These efforts have been in vain. Of course we don’t want AMD to become the Julius Caesar of PCs, so here’s hoping Intel can right the ship (and keep prices low) in 2020.

AMD Ryzen 3D Graphic
AMD Ryzen logo.
Image of female shot in blue light.

Blue Light Bad

Coffee is good, no wait, it’s bad, now it’s good, again… And now, blue light filters are bad? -Sorta.

A recent study released by Dr. Tim Brown of Manchester University suggests that earlier testing may not have accounted for the intensity of the light which reaches the eye. Put differently, previous studies inadvertently dimmed the amount of blue light reaching the eye when changing colors. This caused an uncorrelated effect on circadian rhythm. Dr. Brown’s study found that by carefully metering the intensity of the blue light to match that of white and yellow, the foremost had the least effect on the internal clock of mice used in the testing.

This is interesting stuff, though there’s no telling when a competing study will reverse the course once again.

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GSE: A Program You Need To Know About

As you know, we enjoy sharing tips to keep you safe when working with technology but today we want to share something a little different and very special.

We want to bring your attention to a pioneering program, The West Virginia Governor’s School for Entrepreneurship (GSE for short) which sponsors youth entrepreneurship within the state; a program which until recently, was unknown to us.

It started with a phone call to the Tekswift support line. The caller, a well-spoken, highly respectful young man (and frankly pretty brave given this was a cold call) Billy Tobin, shared that he and his team were searching for a computer monitor to support their business idea. The monitor was to serve as proof-of-concept for an innovative product called Polarized Privacy.

Polarized Privacy Team Photo

The Polarized Privacy Team: Billy Tobin, Sandrik Tabidze, Mouhammad Sissoko

Billy explained their technology would completely obfuscate the display on their products, showing only a blank white screen to onlookers, while users donning a specialty pair of glasses would be able to see the monitor clearly.

We were sold, this sounded too cool to pass up. After providing a monitor to the Polarized Privacy team, Tekswift soon received a demo video showing just how awesome the product is. Check it out.

The Polarized Privacy team and other’s foray into business was made possible by volunteers, guest speakers and not least, administrators of the GSE. But what is the Governor’s School?

As described on the GSE website:

“[GSE] is for high school students currently in ninth through eleventh grades. Young innovators learn how to create a scalable business model based on market feedback – and then have the opportunity to pitch and start the business.”

The School of Entrepreneurship is one of four Governor’s Schools in West Virginia (full list here, bottom of page) run by the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts. This year’s participants were ushered onto the grounds of WVU for a three week long, on-campus stay within the dorms, which is assuredly a very exciting proposition for high school students.

The Dean of the GSE at WVU, and Assistant Director of the BrickstreetĀ Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship,Ā Julia Bolt was happy to share some of her time to shed more light on how the program came to fruition. Julia holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. Her background in public relations, communications, and marketing provide the experience and talents that power the vision of this program.

“Small business and entrepreneurship are going to save our state.”
-Julia Bolt

Julia’s efforts to bring the program to WVU began with her role in directing the WV Collegiate Business Plan CompetitionĀ and the WV High School Business Plan Competition. Both programs are open to students within the state of West Virginia; promoting business in hospitality & tourism, lifestyle & innovation, and STEM.

Upon learning of the GSE’s inaugural establishment at Marshall University, Julia quickly reached out to bring the program to Morgantown.

Ms. Bolt travels the state promoting these programs, which are focused on shaping young entrepreneurs and growing small business for West Virginia. Julia told us that the Polarized Privacy team was awarded the Best Overall Team at this year’s competition.

2017 GSE at WVU Polarized Privacy

Pictured: Billy Tobin (right) of Polarized Privacy

Tekswift extends a special congratulations to Billy and his team.

For more information about the Governor’s School programs, and to find out how you can support entrepreneurship for West Virginia, visit the GSE site by clicking here.

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How To Spot Phishing Scams

Before you open thatĀ attachment, think or you may fall prey to a phishing scam.



‘But what does “phishing” even mean?’

Phishing (also known as “spoofing”) is analogous to real-life fishing, only the bait is usually an email attachment, and you are the fish. It is for this reason, today’s entry is designed to help you spot phishing scams. Hackers carefully (and sometimes not so) compose content to trick you into opening files and/or websites in order to deliver virus payload.

Examples of this are aplenty, but the most common entry points are found in out-of-date websites (ie. not routinely updated with the latest security patches) which are infected, then masquerade as legitimate websites. Some of these fake sites are quite difficult to discern from their authentic counterparts.

Spot phishing scams: Outlook Scam Email

Another common phishing tactic is found within email messages. The attackers will craft a message that bears logos and insignia of major companies or governmental organizations, often paired with a provocative call to action like ‘Important information about your tax return’ or ‘Your package could not be delivered’.

Spot phishing scams: Fake USPS Email

The attack then requires the recipient to open or download an attachment in order to uncover additional details. Upon opening the attachment, and without a strong endpoint security solution, your computer and possibly every online account belonging to you can be compromised.

How can I spot phishing scams?

The answer to this question is simple: The best defense, is a better offense. There are several ways available to spot phishing scams. Most often, suspect emails will contain at least two glaring typos and poorly-composed sentence structure; albeit attackers are becoming more adept every day.




Another useful measure is to ensure both that you recognize the sender of an email, and that its domain (the stuff after the ‘@’ symbol) matches the company or entity described in the subject and/or body.

Spot phishing scams: Fake Microsoft email.

Look carefully! The sender name reads “microsoft team.”. Not only are there errors in letter case, but an errant punctuation mark. The most glaring of these errors being that the highlighted section “mailed-by” does not show “Microsoft”. These are hallmarks of phishing scams.

While many means of unmasking and protecting against these scams exist, your first line of defense is a well-trained eye. So we’ve included a link to a FREE Phishing Test to aid in your training.

This test is completely free, and 100% safe. We recommend this test everyone, including existing and future clients.

Click here to take the Phishing IQ Test, courtesy of SonicWall.

Stay safe!

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Footprints In Digital Sand

We are going on a limb here and assuming nearly everyone has read Footprints in the Sand, a poem byĀ Unknown Author. If you are among the knowing, skip past the link.

Footprints In The Sand

As Web travelers, expect that one set of footprints in our digital sand means our identity is safe. Particularly worrisomeĀ is when two sets of prints show up where we’ve traveled. This is the essence of today’s blog: Cleaning up your digital tracks.

The phrase ‘what goes on the web, stays on the web’ is absolutely true. One way to shore things up is to close old accounts. Forgotten accounts are like a proverbial gold mine for data theft.

Breaking into just one of your old accounts can yield useful clues to easily crack the next.

Below are a few sites with deletionĀ links (useĀ a web search to find others). Complete these and your accounts will be permanently vaporized!

Deleting your app accounts is only part of the battle, your public records also deserveĀ a privacy check-up.

Google yourself (your ex already has), to find a wealth of surprising, possibly embarrassing details. All joking aside, what shows up in Google’s results is usually pretty innocent, while sites likeĀ PiplĀ provide a more sobering depth of personal info.

Despite this, websites likeĀ abineĀ provide subscription services (DeleteMe) that remove your public info. Abine offers aĀ freeĀ guide to opting out from many people searches.

Lastly, and certainly not least important, get a VPN. In all seriousness, your phone has a passcode, you (hopefully) draw your blinds before walking around ‘in the buck’, but how are you protecting your browsing in real-time? Our staff is available to answer any questions about network security you may have. Give us a call today.

Stay safe!

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