2018 September e-Bytes

Internet TV for Free - Legal or Illegal?
The Best Free Antivirus Protection of 2018
Modem, Router, and Access Point: What's the Difference?
Spotify vs. Apple Music
7 Signs You Have Malware and How to Get Rid of It
Windows 10 updates: Expect slimmed-down, full-quality versions, says Microsoft
Which smart home gadget should you buy first?
'12345' Is Really Bad: Your Ultimate Guide to Password Security

Internet TV for Free - Legal or Illegal?

By Tom Kreuzer PCC Board Member

A question was raised at the August 22, 2018 PCC Meeting on “Internet TV” about TV boxes that allow you to watch almost any movie, sports, or TV content for free. My presentation only covered legal services to get content. I had limited time to explain these “illegal” options, so I will now go into more detail.

The devices are legal to sell because they are not providing the illegal content. The boxes can be used to watch public domain “free” content which is legal or even pay services like Netflix if you have an account. It is the “FREE” copyrighted content that is the problem and what most people want to watch for free. The sites providing the content get by because they are located in countries without copyright laws or by saying that their service does not "download" anything and only stream content. Current copyright laws are written to prevent "downloads" and say nothing about streaming. In my opinion, and many others, this is not a gray area, it is an illegal activity.

The PCC member asked how could one of these boxes be sold at the Minnesota State Fair the last couple of years if it is illegal? I found in the State Fair Grandstand this year the vendor FreeStream, www.FreeStream.me, selling a box to watch FREE TV. The pitch man was showing the box connected to a TV to five people, while he used the remote to show access to every movie, TV show, sporting event, PPV event they wanted without having to pay for it. Who would not want free TV? The box normally sells for $599 but you can get a special State Fair price today. Since you need one for each TV, you can save even more if you buy multiple. I understand that people are looking for a way to walk away from high cable prices, but this is not a legal solution. Freestream and other companies like it are under no obligation to make sure you see your football games, movies, or any other content; they have no deals with any content creators. I asked the vendor several questions and got the run around while he continued to lie to the people in attendance. No legitimate company works in double talk and deniability. Maybe that is what makes it the perfect State Fair product.

FreeStream Box

The device is a small Android computer box. It has an HDMI output that connects to a TV, Ethernet input, WiFi, USB, and a TV Remote to setup and control the box. Once connected to the Internet, apps are loaded and run just like on your phone or table. The FreeStream app is used to access content from many illegal servers in a guide format. Similar Android boxes can be bought on Amazon or eBay for $30 to $100, but the State Fair “special” is up to 20 times more. As P.T. Barnum said “There's a sucker born every minute". Companies like FreeStream are here today and gone tomorrow, provide little or no support, stop upgrading their app, start to charge for upgrades to their app, do not support old devices from a year or two ago, content constantly changes, usually just a post office box with no physical location, and many other issues. Once the app they provide stops working or is not upgraded, you lose access to your free content. There are 100s of apps like MovieBox or ShowBox that also provide illegal free content. These apps can not be found on the Apple App Store or Google Play and must be downloaded and installed from other sites because they are considered illegal and dangerous.

Now let’s talk about where the content is coming from. Legal services like Sling and Netflix, have thousands of servers setup to provide the highest quality at the fastest speed to their customers. Legal services and users are only downloading content to their device/home. Illegal services do not have thousands of servers, so they rely on user devices and networks to act as a server to others. An illegal service may start with one machine in Russia and has no income stream to make money and provide more. The Quality may not be HD “1080p”, lots of buffering, may be here today and gone tomorrow, hard to use, and lots more issues. Most of these services use P2PTV, peer to peer TV. In a P2PTV system, each user, while downloading a video stream, is simultaneously also uploading that stream to other users, thus contributing to the overall available bandwidth. The video quality of the channels usually depends on how many users are watching; the video quality is better if there are more users. The architecture of many P2PTV networks can be thought of as real-time versions of BitTorrent: if a user wishes to view a certain channel, the P2PTV software contacts a "tracker server" for that channel in order to obtain addresses of peers who distribute that channel; it then contacts these peers to receive the feed. The tracker records the user's address, so that it can be given to other users who wish to view the same channel. In effect, this creates an overlay network on top of the regular internet for the distribution of real-time video content. This means your box and Internet are used to provide content to other people. Not only are you illegally viewing content, but your box is also providing it to other viewers.

Recently in Australia, those who watched “Dallas Buyers Club” through torrents have been sued, forcing ISPs to hand over the details of those who accessed it. In the USA the damages are limited to $150,000 per movie. Some people will argue that because they are streaming and not downloading, the copyright laws do not apply. It costs money to create content and content providers need to make money or they will not create new content. Again, in my opinion and many others, this is not a gray area, it is an illegal activity.

If you must get Free illegal TV, at least do it safe. To prevent tracking, use a VPN service to mask what you are doing. When using a good VPN, only encrypted data, which looks like gibberish is sent to your ISP, meaning that nothing can be traced back to you. VPN slows down your effective speed depending on the time to code everything sent, decode everything retrieved, extra stops at the VPN servers, and several other issues. You will need to pay for a VPN service that does not log your activity and does not throttle down the P2P traffic. FYI… Over half of VPN use is for accessing restricted movies and TV content.

I do not recommend any of these illegal boxes, services, or VPN. Keep it legal. Any questions or comments can be sent to Tom Kreuzer: tckreuzer@gmail.com

The Best Free Antivirus Protection of 2018

Even if you're running Windows 10, you shouldn't rely on Microsoft's security tools. Many free third-party security apps are more effective at keeping you safe. We've tested 17 no-cost services to help you find the best free antivirus for protecting your PC.

Modem, Router, and Access Point: What's the Difference?

It can be hard to tell the difference between all the devices that help you access the internet. This guide will help you learn what everything does.

Spotify vs. Apple Music

Apple Music has secured 40 million customers in just four years, but Spotify remains the market leader by a large margin; it has more than double the number of users compared to Apple Music. Ultimately, the winner will be the service with the most paying subscribers. Check out how the two services stack up right now. And for more data-driven technology insight, check out The Why Axis archive.

7 Signs You Have Malware and How to Get Rid of It

When your PC slows down or acts weird, it could just be a glitch. But it could be an outward and visible sign of an inward and terrible malware infestation.

Windows 10 updates: Expect slimmed-down, full-quality versions, says Microsoft

The next version of Windows 10 could make Microsoft's monthly updates less painful to manage.

Which smart home gadget should you buy first?

Smart home newbie? We've got plenty of starter suggestions, and everything you need to narrow them down.

Stretch your dollars in the smart home - Starting a smart home doesn't have to break the bank. These budget-friendly buys will get you on the way to a smarter home in no time.

Want to buy a smart plug? Read this first - There's a surprising variety of smart plugs out there. Here's how to decide which is right for your home.

'12345' Is Really Bad: Your Ultimate Guide to Password Security

In a recent PCMag survey on passwords, only 24 percent of respondents reported using a password manager. The rest of you have a serious problem. You're almost certainly using passwords that are easy to remember, which makes them easy to crack. Get it together with our guide.

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Free Video Service Planned for Fire TV Devices - This isn't the free version of Amazon Prime Video that has been long-rumored, instead it's a completely separate service allowing Amazon to generate more revenue from adverts while offering Fire TV users free entertainment.

How to Wipe Your Hard Drive - Planning to get rid of your PC? How can you make sure all the personal files on your hard drive are erased and unrecoverable?

How to Download YouTube Videos - Hours of footage is uploaded to YouTube every single second. What if you want to download it? In some circles, that's considered a big no-no, but you have your reasons, right? Here's how.

These are first 7 Alexa skills you should enable - The ever-growing world of Alexa skills can be daunting. Here are the seven you should give a go first.

PCMag Picks the Best Wi-Fi Mesh Network Systems - With the explosion in popularity of smart home devices and countless streaming media services whole-house Wi-Fi coverage has become a must. These are our top picks to blanket your home with coverage.

How to Change Your Wi-Fi Password - Time to reset your Wi-Fi password to something stronger or more memorable? It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your internet security.

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How to Get the Best Cable Modem: Buy or Rent From Your ISP? - You may be able to save money and get faster speeds by buying a cable modem instead of renting one from your ISP. Here's what you need to know.

How to Switch to a New Password Manager - Are you itching to try one of the best password managers but not looking forward to the process of getting all your data ported over from a second-string app? Switching isn't as hard as you might think. Just follow these simple steps.

7 ways to keep packages from getting stolen off your porch - Defend yourself against "porch pirates" and other would-be package thieves.

Ask a Question


Send any Tips & Downloads, Ask a Question, For Sale, or articles to:  TheMiningPCC@gmail.com


Q. From a PCC Member - 
1) I intend to purchase a new laptop with the Microsoft suite; for personal computing.
2) In addition to that, I have a few desk-tops and lap-tops that I'm either looking forward to:
a) clean it's memory then updated the software for the grand-kids; or else 
b) I'll try to wipe them clean and then possibly take them to the Wash. Co. MN recycle center.
A. From Tom Kreuzer, a PCC Board member. I will try to address your questions and look forward to you joining the club. The PCC site has info on the next meeting and I have included the latest email that I send members below.

1) I intend to purchase a new laptop with the Microsoft suite; for personal computing.

Not sure what questions you have on a laptop or Microsoft suite? The club has links/discounts for Apple and HP on the site. Other options like refurbished or online like at Walmart.com or Amazon. Depending on what your requirements are you can spend anywhere from $250 to $10,000. Requirements are things like what you need it do on it, how fast it needs to be, what you plan to store locally on a hard drive or SSD, need a DVD, external ports, display size, battery life, video editing/gaming, touch screen, weight, OS (Windows, Apple, Chromebook), and lots more to consider. If you are buying right now check out this weeks specials at Staples for a low end HP for $299 that is OK for the basics with a 14" display, 8 GB RAM, and 500 GB hard drive. 

The club has no discount for Microsoft suite. The new Office 365 is subscription and costs per year are about $100 year. Most people not need Office and can instead use free options like Google Docs or OpenOffice. I have attached a PDF file from Jan 2015 the club did on Microsoft Office options. Most of the info is still valid.

2) In addition to that, I have a few desk-tops and lap-tops that I'm either looking forward to:
a) clean it's memory then updated the software for the grand-kids; or else 
b) I'll try to wipe them clean and then possibly take them to the Wash. Co. MN recycle center.

If you are going to take them to a recycler, I would recommend you destroy the hard drive by drilling holes in it. That is the easiest. A hammer can be used if you open the hard drive and destroy it.  

If it is the grand-kids and the machines are Windows you can create a new User Account for them and set it to Admin privileges. Then delete the old User Account and windows will delete all the old Documents, Pictures, Music, Video, and settings. Also uninstall any software that is no longer going to be used. 

Not sure how much of what I have listed makes sense to you. Let me know if you need more details or have more questions.

The member responds - Thanks for the quick response and the attachment. I’ll check out the HP web-link that you mentioned, if you would please send it to me; I couldn’t find it. I think the alternatives to MS will be great for the grand-kids (ages 2-8).

FYI – I like a wide screen so it’ll have to be 16 plus inches and I would eventually like to use it along with personal reasons, for example: Home business needs and specialty investment software like Fidelity Investments’ Active Trader Pro that has these minimum requirements. And last but not least, maybe even taking various digitized home movie footage and splicing it together for video’s (if it’s not too expensive for hardware and software… and if I ever find the time). I’m not sure what’s out there right now for minimum options, but I do know I need reliability and I could spend $600… but I really don’t really want to spend more than $1200.00, if I can help it.

Tom Kreuzer responds - The HP Link is on the "Deal" page and scroll down to HP: https://sites.google.com/site/theminingpcc/deals 

I would recommend you see and try any laptop before you buy or order one. A 16" laptop is fine to rest on a desk, but is large to hold on a lap and limits battery life. Also, laptops with the same 16" have different video cards which show different resolutions which equates to how clear and text and columns show. Find one that looks good to you. Some people have a 14" laptop and then connect to large monitor at home.

Even for a basic Windows 10 PC I recommend at least 8 GB RAM which is more than Fidelity needs at 6 GB. i5 processors start at about $400 and i7 at about $600.

Video editing can be done on even a basic PC, it just takes a long time to save/render a file. A $300 PC with a single i3 processor might take 20 minutes to render a new 3 minute movie. A $1000 quad i7 might take 10 seconds to render a new 3 minute movie. The more memory, processors, and speed the faster everything goes. Multiple monitors is also helpful for editing. Most people just end up doing simple cuts and never find the time to do much else. Your phone, any PC, or even sites like YouTube will do basic edits.

I recommend people buy for what they need today. If you spend at the low end instead of the high end, you can afford to buy a new better one in 3 years.

FYI... Laptops are always slower than a desktops of the same RAM and CPU.

Happy Hunting

Q. From a PCC Member - I think the PC Club had discussed Dashlane as a password manager. I have been using it for about 3 years. All of a sudden I get a message that states “Dashlane is not working” and nothing works to get it working again??? I tried a complete uninstall and install from their website ... and restore to a previous date. Nothing works?? Have you ever heard of this?? I was so dependent on Dashlane I did not write down all my passwords, so now I am in a real mess.
A. From Tom Kreuzer, a PCC Board member.  I have not used Dashlane, I use LastPass. I have copied Jim Homan who gave the presentation on Password managers and may know more. Do you only have one machine or are you using it on phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc? If so, try it on another device? I did a quick search on found the following on their website: https://support.dashlane.com/hc/en-us/articles/202624982 It has some steps to check and also has a chat you can try for help. It may be a case of an update to your browser software that caused the password extension to fail. Usually the software vendor will release a new version that works with the change. If that is not the case you could try uninstalling your browser and reinstall? You point out an issue that we all should have a backup of passwords in case this ever happens.

From James Homan a PCC Board member. I am sorry to hear about your difficulty.  Unfortunately, I don't know much about Dashlane specifically.  I concentrated on LastPass and a bit on KeePass, which I we continue to use at home.I looked online as well.  In the past, Dashlane has had some issues when a browser was updated.  In particular, I saw history of issue arising when Chrome was updated.  Dashlane eventually resolved those issues with updates.  Are you having issues within a browser?  If so, have you tried another browser or have you tried running Dashlane standalone or in a different browser?  Or, as Tom Suggested, on another device? Other than a browser update, was any other software recently updated?  If so, you could try restoring to an earlier restore point.  Dashlane does have fairly extensive help files on their web site; I have not gone through them all.  If you do not find what you need, there is a "Contact us" button on the bottom of their support pages.  You could ask Dashlane directly for help that way.

The member responds - So far it looks like unistalling and reinstalling Firefox and then reinstalling a freshly downloaded Dashlane has solved my issues. My passwords are back, Smile. Just curious...I have been using the FREE Dashlane for years...are there advantages to paying for their Premium version? Also curious about your opinions on browsers...I have used Firefox also for many years? In the past it seemed Chrome bogged down my internet and I had a distrust for Explorer...am I, in general, good with Firefox?? I do nothing fancy or taxing on the internet. Maybe browsers were covered in a meeting in the last year or so...I have not been to a meeting in a few years...I retired in 2008. I like keeping up my membership though !!

Tom Kreuzer responds - Glad you got things working. You asked about the premium version of Dashlane. A search provided the following features that you get for the $60 year. If they are of value to you go for it. I use the free package LastPass and that is all I need.:

  • Unlimited password storage
  • Full Dashlane benefits synced across every device
  • Instant form and payment autofill
  • Dark Web Monitoring with personalized alerts
  • VPN for WiFi protection
  • Secure file storage

The last time the club had a meeting on browsers was in Feb 2014 and I have attached the handout. Most of the info is still valid. The big change since then is that Windows 10 now has both Explorer and the New Microsoft Edge browsers. The Edge is almost as good as Chrome and Firefox, but is not available on other non windows devices like phones and tablets. Personally I recommend Chrome, because it is fast, available on most devices, and can share bookmarks etc. Firefox is best if you are a developer or maintain web sites.

FYI... You talked about doing a Windows restore to get back to when it was working. A Windows restore is only for settings, programs, drivers, etc. that are part of the Windows operating system. It does not restore or change any software like Firefox or Dashlane. You usually have to uninstall the software and install an old version from the web. What you may have had was a new version of Firefox or Dashlane came out in the last day or two that fixed the problem.