Is the normal you’ve left the normal you want to return to?
~Valorie Burton

April was a crazy month.  I think I have everyone who wants or needs to work from home, successfully working from home.  I’m hoping May will be more gracious and give me the privilege of working a day or two from home as well.

So what made April crazy?  Besides the pandemic, I got to rebuild an office that was hit by ransomware.  The ransomware came in via a link to a recorded webinar.  I don’t know any of the specifics concerning  which webinar or what platform was used (zoom, gotomeeting, or something else), but I do know,  it took several days to restore 1.5 terabytes of  data from backups, and reinstall critical business applications.  It was ugly.  They survived with minimal data loss.

My personal life is also crazy.  I have successfully moved most of my belongings out of the old house and into the new house.  While finishing up the move, Neal & I decided it would be a good idea to list our house for sale on and

That has been an experience.  I don’t understand why all inquiries ask “Is this for sale?”  Pretty certain Jeff Foxworthy is a distant cousin.  It takes every ounce of willpower to not say “No, we thought it would be fun to pretend to sell it… Here’s your sign…”

I was pretty excited when a legitimate inquiry came in.  I responded appropriately with options to tour the home.  A week went by and I got a really nice reply back saying they closed on a property they found on a really awesome site, and suggested I list our property there as well.  They kindly sent me the link created at  What awesome buyers! Right? 

It seemed too kind.  Kind of creeped me out.  So I did some research.  First thing you need to know, is is a url shortener.  It will take a web address like:

And turn it into:

For years I’ve been preaching: “DON’T CLICK ON RANDOM LINKS!!”  And because inquiring minds want to know,  I set off to find a way to verify where the link might take me, without actually taking me there.  Remarkably, there is.  You can preview the original unabbreviated  link by appending a “+” to the end of the link, like so: 

From there you can make an informed decision as to whether it is wise to proceed or not.  Turns out, the bitly link was a series of cascading shortened links that landed in Italy.  SO GLAD I DIDN’T TAKE THE BAIT!

TinyURL is a competing link shortening tool I have used repeatedly over the years to share links in these newsletters. 

TinyURL took the previous long link and turned it into:

To preview a tinyurl link, add the word preview to the address as shown:

All of that to say:  I suspect the recorded webinar that brought in the ransomware was most likely a shortened URL.  It is especially important during these crazy times to check every link before we click on it. 

Hovering over the linked item will show  the actual address it opens.  If it is a bitly or tinyurl address, follow the directions above to see the real landing page.

And, check out the link used to create these examples. You will scream with laughter.

Helping You Stay Safe While Living In Less Than Safe Times!

~ Janet

Because It Made Me Laugh!

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