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The app that may end robocalls forever

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Ethan Garr and Bryan Moyles may have the cure for unwanted robocalls infecting mobile phones.

They created a mobile app so promising that the Federal Trade Commission awarded them $25,000 this week to further invest in the development of RoboKiller.

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"I do believe we solved the problem of robocalls," Garr said.

The FTC’s head of bureau consumer protection, Jessica Rich, says the app may also help report illegal robocallers to law enforcement.

“We hope the winners bring their dynamic solutions to the marketplace soon,” Rich said.

RoboKiller answers every call and “tricks” robots to start their prerecorded message.

Within seconds the voice goes through an algorithm to assess if it is human or robotic.

Real callers would hear the common sound of a phone ringing as the app goes to work and examines the call.

Calls determined to be from a robot would be blacklisted to a spam folder in the app, letting mobile phone users browse rejected calls like junk email.

The tool may solve the puzzle of how to stop robocalls without blocking calls from spammers spoofing legitimate phone numbers.

Garr says he’s yet to get a robocall since installing the technology on his own phone.

Fifteen robocalls have gone to his spam folder in nine days.

“Our accuracy in detecting humans versus robots is 98 percent,” Garr said.

The app is in beta testing.

More information is on RoboKiller’s Kickstarter page.

Must-see photo: Hubble telescope captures space smiley

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Did the Hubble telescope capture a photo of an outer-space smiley face? Well, sort of.


According to a Washington Post blog published Monday, Judy Schmidt spotted this image among Hubble's data and submitted it to Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition. 

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Although the image resembles an eerie extraterrestrial grin, it's just a photo of galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. The "eyes" are two galaxies.

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True privacy on the web at the click of a mouse

Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert

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Are you concerned with all the discussion about online tracking by the government and private industry? There are some simple steps you can take to limit it.The use of cookies to track your web browsing and serve up relevant ads is one of the easiest things to stop. For example, Firefox has  Do Not Track capability that you can easily activate in their browser.Ad Block Plus, a browser "add-on" designed to remove many ads from your browser display, can also help disable online tracking  as you’re web-surfing, and it’s available for most major browsers.But if you really want to stop the browsers from tracking you, you'll want to take the following steps, courtesy of The New York Times. 



  1. Go to Google.com/history and log in to your Google account.
  2. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select 'Settings.'  
  3. Click the 'Turn Off' button. As an additional step, be sure to click the 'delete all' and 'recent activity' links.
  4. You can also opt out of targeted and search ads on the web and in Gmail by going to Google.com/settings/ads.


  1. Go to Bing.com/profile/history.
  2. Click both the 'turn off' and 'clear all' buttons in the upper right corner.


  1. Go to Search.Yahoo.com/preferences.
  2. Select 'search history off.'



Ignore the online trail that you leave behind at your own risk.  I recently learned that the #1  weapon fordivorce lawyers in contentious cases is requesting disclosure of e-mail and search history,  as well as who you "friend" on social media.If you want to avoid leaving a trail, you can do your searches through a popular new search tool called DuckDuckGo.

Since 2013 I've been using this tool instead of Google. It delivers cleaner search results with fewer advertisements and does not record your searches.

DuckDuckGo was started by 33-year-old Gabe Weinberg. Weinberg thought it was crazy that ads pop up on Google so prominently and they track you everywhere you go and then serve you more ads based on what you search. He just wanted a straight, clean search, and that's what he developed. With no real business model, he's still trying to figure out how to make real money from this creation. But the use of this non-tracking search tool has exploded in recent months.For other no-track search options, The New York Times also recommends Private LeeQrobe.itIxQuick, and Disconnect Search.


In reality, the greatest breach of your privacy may be through smartphones. They are a gold mine for people looking to track you, dissect who are, and sell to you. In fact, you have to go back to using a feature phone if you want to avoid data miners! But there is a way to limit the surveillance.Simply go to SmartStorePrivacy.org and you can opt out of this mobile tracking. Not every player in the tracking business is on board with this privacy initiative, but many of the bigger ones are.Just click Take Me to Opt Out, enter both your WiFi MAC address and Bluetooth address and then you're opted out. Full instructions on how to determine your MAC and Bluetooth address are also available.

You can also install the DuckDuckGo app on your iPhone or Android device.



If you really want to go off the grid, use a feature phone like an older flip-phone; use cash instead of credit or debit; and don’t surf the web.There are less extreme ways to mitigate and limit tracking too. For example, you might segregate your emails and/or browsers -- one e-mail for social media, another for e-commerce, another for news and info sites, etc.You do have choices if you want to take some control. It’s only a question of how much control you want to take…Melissa King, a Savings.com DealPro, lives in Savannah, GA. She enjoys "Paying It Forward"  in her community. Check her out on her blog at ThisMommySavesMoney.com.For further reading:

New scam targets Netflix subscribers

Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert

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If you're a Netflix subscriber, you're on the hit list of cyber-criminals who want into your wallet!

Huffington Post reports some subscribers are being hit with a pop-up phony webpage that looks exactly like Netflix.When you enter your account info to sign in, you get a message that says, "We have detected unusual activity on this account. To Protect your account for unauthorized use, we have temporarily suspended this username. To regain access to your account please contact Member Services at 1-800-947-6570."I should note that the real Netflix customer service number is 1-866-579-7172.If you call the fake customer service number, you're told to download special software that is a Trojan virus. It allows the criminals to take over your computer and look for sensitive financial info on it.http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid29023586001?bctid=3033276615001

Netflix has become so popular that it's now a big target for crooks. Be very careful out there! If you ever need to call Netflix, make sure you call the right number. Do not respond to anything in any pop up!

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$25 smartphone is coming

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Forget about the latest iPhone or the newest Samsung Galaxy. The hottest smartphone of 2014 could be one that costs as little as $25!Mozilla has teamed up with Chinese manufacturer Spreadtrum to announce a $25 smartphone.The technological breakthrough that will allow such a cheap yet fully featured phone is the SC6821 chipset.According to a press release, the SC6821 promises "a unique low memory configuration and high level of integration that dramatically reduces the total bill of materials required to develop low-end smartphones." The as-yet-unnamed phone will run Firefox OS, so it may take some getting used to!As we move to a no-contract world, you'll have to buy your own phone at a real unsubsidized price. $200 is the high point of what most people will pay. But most people are more comfortable under $100.This coming Christmas, you'll see how entire market changes with super-cheap no-contract smartphones!For further reading:

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