Watch out for Catalina!

I was asked last week about a message that had appeared on a Lightroom 4 users’ screen with this warning …

… scary eh!?

Well yes it is but if you’ve got a relatively new Mac you do have the choice NOW of making sure you have the latest version of software that will support older versions of Lightroom, and do an upgrade to Mojave (v.10.14) BEFORE Catalina (v.10.15) is released later this year – probably in October. That way you’ll be nearly up-to-date with your version of MacOS and that may be sufficient for you if you don’t feel the need to have the latest version of MacOS.

If you have Lightroom 6 installed (or even 3, 4 or 5), you may be getting the message above EVEN THOUGH it is a 64-bit app. This is because the Installer/Uninstaller and Activation code software is 32-bit. That means the software “should” continue to work, but you won’t be able to re-install it to a MacOS of Catalina (v.10.15), or later.

The only other alternative if you want to stick with Adobe Lightroom is to swallow hard and subscribe at £9.98pm to the Photography Plan of Adobe’s Creative Cloud programme. You do get Photoshop as well as what Adobe call Lightroom Classic, plus their in the cloud version of Lightroom which they (confusingly) call Lightroom!

Adobe detail the changes and implications in this blog post. Another post from Laura Shoe Training gives more information here.

UPDATE: I’ve just read this really useful and interesting article from the magazine MacWorld – I suggest you read it too – and I’ve found out that Microsoft 2011 for Mac and Picasa (amongst others on my iMac) will not work with Catalina. Whilst I’m not particularly concerned about losing either of these as there are alternatives I’m already using – such as (in the case of the former) Google Docs, Open Office, Libre Office or Apple’s Pages, Numbers or Keynote applications – it’s better to be prepared and to have made the decision to move before I have to jump! Also in the case of Picasa, that I haven’t got anything in the database that I haven’t catalogued elsewhere – I think that unlikely, but I ought to check!

I’ve also stumbled upon an entry in “About This Mac > System Report …” which you get to from the Apple Icon in the top-left corner of your desktop. Go to Software and if you’re running Mojave there’s an entry called Legacy Software. Look at that and you’ll be able to see quickly what software is unlikely to work in Catalina. If you’re running an earlier version of MacOS go to Software and click on Applications and look for non 64-bit applications (a column to the right of the window).

Other links worth following …
MacOS 64-bit – what it means to you
32-bit app compatibility for Macs with current Mojave operating system

PS I’m still running Mojave [16th April, 2020] on desktop and laptop.

Identity Theft

This will probably be one of the most challenging posts I’ve ever attempted to write because in all truth, I don’t think we really still know what actually happened to my daughter’s online identity, let alone wholly knowing how it happened, but I’m going to try and explain the sequence of events as an alert to you all, and a reminder to us too!

Some background and a plausible explanation of why they got themselves into the situation they found themselves.

They’d been self-employed for a short while now, working as a freelancer, and had just submitted their first tax returns in that capacity.

They were working from home, with two young children with one under six months old, and both very demanding of their time.

The family is living in another family member’s house whilst they “do up” their new house.

They’re adept at multi-tasking (obviously too adept as it turns out) and is (as many of their age are able to do) capable of nestling their phone between chin and shoulder whilst doing other tasks!

What happened next!

She had a phone call purporting to come from HMRC (we’re presuming this was just a fortuitous coincidence from the fraudster’s point of view – they had no way of knowing the employment status of the family member) – saying that they had a refund owing. As explained above she thought this was quite possibly the case as she had just completed a tax return – again an unhappy coincidence! She was told to click on a link in a text message to complete the process of getting the refund. She had their youngest child on her hip, was preparing a meal and was “distracted”. She filled-in the required information from the link!!!!

Agh! No!

Shortly afterwards (the same day) she presented her credit card at a supermarket and payment was refused. She realised something was wrong. She found she didn’t have access to her online banking. She contacted the bank by phone. The bank “supposedly” froze the account there and then but it was apparent that at least two transfers of money had been made to someone who was a Payee in her account – why? That’s the clever bit of the scam, I’ll explain later!

More payments appeared to have been made … help!!!

How could this be? The account was frozen … wasn’t it?

Get the family involved!

Having a son who’s an IT expert comes in useful, especially if he lives on the other side of the world! He worked through the night (day) in securing as many of her accounts as he could. Changing passwords, which were admittedly rather weak and used more than once (should have listened to Dad) – but he had no idea just how much data had been downloaded, or indeed just how much they had to start with as a result of perhaps a previous “pwned” event.

Having another local son who’s also very practical and logical helps also. He suggested that she contact the payee and tell them about the payment and request it be refunded. What transpired next turns out to be the “clever” part of the scam, although on this occasion it wasn’t conducted very expertly because they attempted multiple payments to the same payee. The payee confirmed that they’d had this payment, wondered what it was and had been a bit puzzled as to why Mr X had contacted them and requested a refund to a bank account because “he’d made a mistake”.

This was obviously NOT the same account as that from which the payment had originated and turned out to be the way the scammers were hoping to transfer funds from the hi-jacked bank account to one of their own! Fortunately, my son’s suggestion alerted the payee and the payee advised their bank NOT to transfer the money.

Phew! How did this all happen when the bank account was supposed to be frozen?

The key to this scam was getting control of my daughter’s mobile phone number. She didn’t realise it immediately, but soon became aware that it had been “stolen” through a scam called SIM swapping. This usually is done by a seemingly distressed person going into a mobile phone shop and pleading for a new SIM with a phone number “because their phone has been stolen” and “it’s absolutely imperative they have their number back immediately as there’s something very important happening right now”.  This is described here.

Why do they want to do this? Because they can transfer calls made to the rightful owner of the phone to their own phone.

Why do they want to do this? Because they can then request the bank account to be unfrozen, and also use their access to the phone number for any number of authorisation features.

And what is more they can lock you out of your phone accounts.

How did they do this in this case? Well GiffGaff is an online service provider and they have stated that they did everything they were supposed to do to authenticate the request for a SIM swap – but it is evident that there are serious weaknesses in their processes. They have stated they are looking at this for the future. Just Google “GiffGaff SIM swap Fraud” to see what is returned – it’s frightening!

So what happened next, and was there a happy ending?

Well, believe it or not, even with a personal visit to the bank and assurances that no more payments would be made, the bank did allow the account to be unfrozen and transfers out of her account were attempted. A second visit to the bank resulted in heartfelt apologies being made and offered over the way their fraud department had handled the problem and a complaint being raised by the branch against their own department on my daughter’s behalf – I don’t know the outcome of that!

Well, there was a happy financial outcome. Thanks to the prompt action and thinking of my local son, the initial transfer was halted. It’s not conclusive whether my daughter could have received compensation (as detailed here) as she was the instigator of the problem through her own mistake (the HMRC phone call). All other attempted transfers were eventually trapped by the bank and refunded to her – so no financial loss.

However …

Much more significant than the potential financial loss was what it did to her confidence. She insisted on getting a new phone, because she wouldn’t accept any advice from any family member (especially me) that there wasn’t anything on her phone that wouldn’t continue to monitor her.

She also lost all confidence in using any online systems – which up until then she’d been very reliant upon.

She also lost a lot of confidence in herself as she realised just how gullible (but extremely unfortunate) she’d been … but the positive side of this, and the main reason for sharing this is that she’ll be much more careful in the future!

Postscript.

We don’t know whether the identity theft side of this will ever be resolved. We all know that a huge amount of information is held on us on the internet. We all know that some websites have had their security breached and identity information stolen. We don’t know what was held by others about my daughter. She had a public profile, they now have the potential to add even more information to their database about her if they had managed to download information from her email (and other) accounts before my son locked them down. We just don’t know.

There was a mysterious book that arrived at her house with a cryptic message in it.

There have been some scamming emails purporting to come from her since this event.

She now uses a different email account.

We just don’t know whether these are connected to the fraud event or are just strange random occurrences … and I suppose we never will know just how much additional information they may have downloaded – emails, photographs, documents, etc. etc. Very frightening.

NatWest Guide to Fraud
Some privacy tips for iPhone users.

GPS jamming exercises – Ofcom

Thought you might be interested in seeing this. Don’t rely on your GPS signal if you’re within 50 miles of Sennybridge at the beginning of April …
The Ministry of Defence conduct occasional tests on military systems which may result in some loss of service to civilian users of the Global Positioning System (GPS) including in-car navigation devices and networks which rely on GPS signals.
— Read on www.ofcom.org.uk/spectrum/information/gps-jamming-exercises

A satisfying and pleasant end to a trying day.

You’ve got to hand it to Apple. They do look after their customers well – at least this one they do!
You may remember I’d been having trouble with the boot-up of my 2013 iMac – yes, it’s at least 5 years old. It’s a powerful machine which I bought to do photo work and it’s been a delight, but the problems reported here …
I’ve now had an introduction to the SBOD
… had come back this month. After a couple of attempts to fix the problem myself, which I had assumed to be software problems, which involved me re-installing the operating system on a completely clean disk (ie I had to re-install all my data and applications from backup which was painless and automatic, but took a bit of time), I contacted their support via online chat, and after Traci had exhausted everything she could remotely, I was referred to the Genius Bar in the local Apple Store for an appointment that same day (actually 18:45 in the evening). A very competent and pleasant hardware technician (David) did “triage” on the machine and announced that the Fusion Drive was in fact faulty – it was a hardware problem.
And … they offered to replace and repair it at no cost to myself as I’d bought it from Apple, not elsewhere.
That’s the way to create brand loyalty. Thanks David. Thanks Apple Store, Cardiff.

Getting started with Digital Photography (revisited) – Organising your pictures

This post re-visits a subject I looked at back in 2017, and developed last year when I looked at how Google Photos could be used for simple editing. The links to these posts are here …
First two posts which set out how I go about learning about photography and the decisions I made on which software to use …
Getting started with Digital Photography: Part 1
Getting started with Digital Photography: Part 2
Then three posts about using Google Photos …
Getting to grips with Google Photos
More Google Photos – some simple image manipulation
Sharing an image (or album) from Google Photos
… I haven’t checked that all the links are still “active”, so if you come across any that are not working, don’t despair, just let me know and I’ll sort it!
What this posts addresses is something much more fundamental
Tidying-up your photos and getting ready to import/process them
This is not a trivial task; for too many years your photo collection (and mine) has been allowed to grow unchecked and uncared for. The downside of digital photography is that you have no hard copy to sort into boxes, or albums, and no cases to put 35mm slides/transparencies into either!!
Taking a photo has become the end in itself, and because it’s so easy to do and it doesn’t cost much to take multiple pictures of the same scene/person, that’s what you do.
You know all this. I don’t need to tell you, and yet you keep on putting off the evil day when you have to do something about it and get to grips with sorting all those pictures out, labelling (tagging) them and putting them into some form when you can actually find the one you want, or the place/holiday/person you want without scrolling through loads of images whilst the person you want to show the picture(s) to politely (or perhaps not) waits for you to find (not always) the picture(s).
So now’s the time to sort your digital photo collection out. Get some order into them. Get rid of duplicates, and make a new year resolution to not let them get on top of you again. Read this article to see what you might need to do, and make a list of the things you might wish to do.
Let’s assume however that you’re starting from scratch, what would be a good set of practices …

  1.  Store all your pictures in one place on your computer – eg Google Photos on a Google Drive – and create a folder structure that helps you find them
  2. Tag them (to describe what/where/who is in them) and title them – img2634.jpg doesn’t tell you much!
  3. Back them up, consider using cloud storage for this as well – eg Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive etc.
  4. Consider using an automatic way of backing-up the photos to the cloud so that they can be shared as well as preserved – eg Google Backup and Sync

… again you probably know all of that, but just in case!
Here’s an article that suggests a few tools to help you start the clean-up and another one from The Guardian.
So what’s my recommendation? Only one approach of many, but here it is … shoot it down!

  1. If you don’t want to pay out anything to organise your Photos and you don’t have an Apple Mac – let Google do it for you (and this is the solution I’ll describe below).
  2. If you do have a Mac, use the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad and the Photos application on your Mac desktop or MacBook [a couple of provisos for this however based on sharing with non-Apple users, or using in a non-Apple environment].
  3. Create a Google Account, if you haven’t got one already, and get 15Gb of free Google Drive (cloud) storage and unlimited storage if you choose to store the photos in High Quality (rather than Original Quality)
    It’s a good idea in any case to have a Google Account as it allows you to create another eMail address – I’m a strong advocate for having more than one eMail address anyway. Go to Google Accounts to setup your Google ID – you can use your existing eMail address if you want to. Then with your account set up you can go to this page. I would suggest you download the Backup and Sync application for your desktop at the same time. Installing the application on your Windows PC, or your Apple Mac, will then create a Google Drive Folder in which you can store information and which then will then be backed-up to your Google Drive “in the cloud”. Voila – you have peace of mind that your precious information has been saved. Any changes you make to the information will be synchronised with the version saved on your cloud storage.
  4. Set Google Photos up as a folder in your Google Drive.
  5. Allow Backup and Sync to copy photos from your phone/tablet to Google Photos (in your Google Drive).
  6. Only Import photos from your camera to your computer into a Google Photos folder using a structure such as [Year]>[Month & Date]
  7. Change the name of your photos in the folder to something a bit more meaningful.
  8. Get ready for some processing and sharing.