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QR Codes

Last week we announced that we're giving away a BRAND NEW FORD FIESTA in NYC through a special QR code hunt a week from today. But what on earth is a QR code? Well, if you've ever been to Japan, you probably already know, because they're very popular over there already in billboard ads and magazines. This should come as no surprise seeing as QR codes are used in conjunction with mobile phones and the Japanese have had cameras on their cell phones since like 1928 (!)

Also, QR codes were invented by the Japanese to track car vehicle parts way back in 1994, so it's no wonder they're ubiquitous there already. Here in the States, however, they're just beginning to catch on a little bit. QR stands for quick response—as in, you scan the code with your phone's camera and you're immediately taken to whatever the code has be programmed to do. The code might send you an SMS, it might take you to a Web page, it might trigger a video or even have your phone call a phone number.

Recently, we got a Target catalog in the mail with a bunch of QR codes next to some of the toys. When you scan one, you get a video commercial showing you what the toy could do. Likewise, New York Times tech writer Nick Bilton's new book, I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works. uses QR codes in conjunction with video. Each chapter has a QR code at the top of it and when you scan them, some take you to YouTube videos of Nick talking about the chapter. You get to meet the author through the video and even interact with him through the YouTube vid comments.

Many Nokia phones are now coming with scanners and code readers built into them. Then there are all the wonderful free apps available for download to iPhones and Androids and the like. My favorites include ScanLife, RedLaser and Mobiletag. If you get a little high off of scanning groceries at those automated check-out lanes, you'll really love using QR codes. For more, check out the Rocketboom video below.

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Live Smarter
How to Spot the Convincing New Phishing Scam Targeting Netflix Users
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iStock

Netflix may send customers the occasional email, but these messages will never ask you to provide them with personal or payment info. You'll want to keep this in mind if you encounter a new phishing scam that The Daily Dot reports is targeting the video streaming service's subscribers in Australia and the UK.

MailGuard, an Australian email security company, was the first to take notice of the fraudulent emails. While similar scams have targeted Netflix users in the past, this current iteration appears to be more convincing than most. At first (and perhaps even second) glance, the messages appear to be legitimate messages from Netflix, with an authentic-looking sender email and the company’s signature red-and-white branding. The fake emails don’t contain telltale signs of a phishing attempt like misspelled words, irregular spacing, or urgent phrasing.

The subject line of the email informs recipients that their credit card info has been declined, and the body requests that customers click on a link to update their card's expiration date and CVV. Clicking leads to a portal where, in addition to the aforementioned details, individuals are prompted to provide their email address and full credit card number. After submitting this valuable info, they’re redirected to Netflix’s homepage.

So far, it’s unclear whether this phishing scheme has widely affected Netflix customers in the U.S., but thousands of people in both Australia and the U.K. have reportedly fallen prey to the effort.

To stay safe from phishing scams—Netflix-related or otherwise—remember to never, ever click on an email link unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s valid. And if you do end up getting duped, use this checklist as a guide to safeguard your compromised data.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

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Weather Watch
Heated Mats Keep Steps Ice-Free in the Winter
Amazon
Amazon

The first snow of the season is always exciting, but the magic can quickly run out when you remember all the hazards that come with icy conditions. Along with heating bills, frosted cars, and other pains, the ground develops a coat of ice that can be dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike. Outdoor steps become particularly treacherous and many people find themselves clutching their railings for fear of making it to the bottom headfirst. Instead of putting salt down the next time it snows, consider a less messy approach: heated mats that quickly melt the ice away.

The handy devices are made with a thermoplastic material and can melt two inches of snow per hour. They're designed to be left outside, so you can keep them ready to go for the whole winter. The 10-by-30-inch mats fit on most standard steps and come with grips to help prevent slipping. A waterproof connector cable connects to additional mats so up to 15 steps can be covered.

Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a price: You need to buy a 120-volt power unit for them to work, and each mat is sold separately. Running at $60 a mat, the price can add up pretty quickly. Still, if you live in a colder place where it's pretty much always snowing, it might be worth it.

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