About Wayland Bruns

Wayland founded CompanionLink in 1987 as The Jorf Company, a maker of shareware 4gl products. As a leading maker of CRM Add-On products, the company started with Sync Products in 1996 for the PalmPilot. As CEO of CompanionLink, Wayland strives to balance quality customer service, products with good value, low prices, and a positive workplace..

How and Why to Safely Invest in Cryptocurrency in 2022

As we enter the third year of the COVID era, we see tectonic shifts in the financial industry. From the debt limit crisis, the failure of Gold as a safe asset, Brexit and the looming default of the major financial markets, there comes a need to be flexible.

The way you invested in the past will not likely achieve the yields necessary to fulfill your retirement goals. Willie Sutton, a famous bank robber, was asked why he robbed banks. The oft-quoted reply is “Because that’s where the money is”.

It is time to move your investments to where the money is.

Remember how you got started with investing. In a time when simply holding stocks made a profit, or a safe company like IBM was considered a safe investment. Everyone trading now knows full well that robots dominate the market, and the major wall street firms are stealing your money by trading ahead of you.

Fifteen years ago, I hired a major bank’s investment advisor to invest $78,000k of IRA funds – representing 10 years of my savings. Over the subsequent 10-years, he took the bank took $22,000 in fees and achieved a $2000 return. The APY on that is tiny – one-quarter percent. At this time, even a simple CD returned 0.5%. With inflation running about 2% per year, my funds decreased in value by about 25% during this time.

My Banker retired and put another guy in place, so I pulled my funds and started doing it myself. In the following four years I have made about 50% using index ETFs. i still feel burned that during the middle part of my earning years, the majority of my retirement savings was locked away in an account that only made the bank money. I thought I was getting wisdom and instead all I got was fees and declining assets.

Every time a Financial Advisor tells you not to trade Bitcoin – keep in mind that the value they are protecting is their own fees, and that they may not have your best interest in mind.

Bitcoin was invented in 2009 as an electronic form of value and exchange. In the early days, it was easy to say that it was made of nothing, worth nothing and would go nowhere. In the following 12 years, the value and adoption have exceeded all expectations. If you are not currently invested in Bitcoin, here are some easy ways:

1. Purchase Bitcoin Using a Traditional Stockbroker

Popular brokers are Robinhood which operates as a high-tech operation. You deposit your funds to Robinhood and purchase Bitcoin. They claim to not have a commission. However, they are entirely funded by order flow – a market consolidator that trades ahead of you – scalping higher prices in the process.

2. Purchase Bitcoin Through PayPal or Other Payment Provider

At this point, everyone and their brother handles Bitcoin, including PayPal. You can simply run your purchase through them.

3. Use a popular Crypto Exchange

The most popular exchanges in the US are Coinbase and Binance.US (Binance-dot-US). Note that Binance.com (Binance-dot-Com) the global company is banned from operating in the US.

My quick suggestion is to make accounts on both of them. Coinbase is handy because they will give you $5 for just opening an account and you get about $40 of free crypto for watching a few movies. My experience is that the UI for Binance.US is easier for me to understand – which is important when moving my hard-earned money.

4. Invest in an ETF that trades in Bitcoin

The SEC and Bitcoin have a fraught relationship. If Cryptocurrency becomes successful, a considerable number of financial corporations and brokers will be unemployed. The SEC runs front man ensuring that Bitcoin is a second class asset in its tax treatment, rules to limit firms from trading it, and ensuring that regular people cannot invest.

While there currently is no ETF that trades Bitcoin directly, the Grayscale Investment Trust (GBTC +4.66%) allows you to own an investment based solely on Bitcoin assets. In general terms, one GBTC share is about 1/100th of a Bitcoin. Recently, due to changes in their management, the “premium” value has moved from positive to negative. GBTC trades with the Pink Sheets, so you can only trade it during market hours. You can trad GBTC from your IRA account.

5. Invest in Etherium

Bitcoin’s younger sibling is Etherium, and Grayscale now offers Grayscale Etherium Trust (ETHE +1.17%). Again, this is a trust and not a real ETF, but it gives a vehicle that can be easily traded from a common stock account.

6. Invest in Blockchain Related ETFs

In addition to GBTC and ETHE, 2021 has brought us some new blockchain-based ETFs – And finally, some new ETFs for blockchain – Vaneck Digital Transformation ETF- (DAPP +1.81%), Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK +0.58%), Siren Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BCLN).

7. Invest in Companies that are Bitcoin Merchants or Miners

Bitcoin Stocks – Some companies are so involved with Bitcoin that they trade relative to Bitcoin’s price. None as directly as GBTC but enough to be worth mentioning. Coinbase – (COIN 280.61 +20.61 +7.93%), Marathon Digital – (MARA -4.89%), Riot Blockchain – (RIOT -7.67%), Sphere 3d – (ANY -2.83%).

8. Do NOT Invest in Bitcoin Technology – Soon to be Obsolete

Some call NVIDIA (NVDA +0.53%) a “Bitcoin stock” because their GPUs are used for mining. But this is not trading on the broad cryptocurrency market or even in a sustainable market. You are merely trading the merchant of the current mining technology. The method of bitcoin mining is wasteful both in electricity and electronic waste products. It is already obsolete. You are trading Coke in the era of Rockstar or IBM in the era of Microsoft. Trade Robinhood, not Lehman brothers. Everyone knows that you need to trade emerging technologies and not get distracted by the dinosaurs you see on the road.

9. Move your Money to Where the Action Is

Bitcoin (BTC 2.673%) and Etherium (ETH 0.501%) average about 200% gains per year. However, they tend to run a pattern of going up 400% one year, then going down as much as 80% the following year. So half of Bitcoin investors are thrilled because they’ve been through a couple of cycles and made 400%, and the other half are somber because they lost 80% in their three months of trying it.In 2022, both Bitcoin and Etherium have enough history to become dependable. They have even spawned an investment style to put a fixed amount in per month so as to slowly grow an account without having a considerable risk at the start. For instance, if you want to invest $10,000, you have a massive risk if you invest today – since Bitcoin may drop by 50% next month – burning $5000 of your investment. But if you instead move $500 per month over a 20 month period – you are likely to bridge a number of up and down cycles and good chance to end up with a higher balance at the end of the period.

I can tell you from experience that I own the equivalent of 2 bitcoin at a purchase price of $8,000 each. A couple of years ago, I was on the seat of my chair for every drop. But in 2021, I really don’t care if Bitcoin is worth $40,000 one day and $20,000 the next. I just do not care. It is improbable it will ever again hit my break-even spot and is very likely to hit $100,000. I can state from experience that once you have hit a 400% gain, it becomes far easier to ride out the swings.

10. Investing in Altcoins and 2nd Tier Cryptocurrencies

Once you have a Coinbase and Binance.US wallet, you will see that they allow you to invest in about 100 other cryptocurrencies. It is easiest to look at these in terms of market share. Bitcoin (BTC 2.673%) and Ethereum (ETH 0.501%) still account for 80% of the market. But the next 15% of the market is held by a small number of Altcoins. Cardano (ADA 0.095%), Binance Chain (BNB 4.222%), XRP (XRP 0.735%), Solana (SOL -0.166%), Dogecoin (DOGE 6.665%) and others. These are easy to trade and have regular chart patterns.

Anyone experienced in chart trading of stocks will quickly find comfort in trading the Alt-Coin market. Even if you are not experienced, use this simple formula –

  1. Find any coin trading in a zigzag that represents an upward moving channel
  2. Watch when it hits the bottom of the channel
  3. Buy when it moves up off the bottom (confirming the move),
  4. Sell when it hits the top of the channel and turns over (confirming the end of the move).

The past channel will show you your holding term, and ideally, a channel that runs 14-60 days gives a good ROI. Day traders like to trade intraday channels, but I have always been a fan of 60 day channels. Finding channels that run 14-60 days give you a nice in and out cycle. Just sell when the coin breaks the channel or goes “weird” on you. Not every investment keeps to channels, but finding the ones that are regular is better than trying for a wildcard win.

My own experience is that the Alt-Coin market generally trends in-line with Bitcoin. So the best time to trade is when Bitcoin is rising. This is easy to spot because all the coins follow the same general trend. In an uptrending market, even your wrong decisions become right. Then when Bitcoin falters, move your money to the stable coins.

11. Stable Coins and their Use

There are a number of stable coins – Tether (USDT), Center (USDC) and Binance USD (BUSD) which attempt to remain parity with the US Dollar. When you encounter a down-drafting market, it is often faster and cheaper to park your funds in a stable coin rather than withdraw them to a US Dollar account.

12. Easy Way to Minimize your Risk

A reasonable way to invest in Alt-Coins is to wait for a time when market analysts predict Bitcoin will rise. Currently, with the debt ceiling looming and the COVID cloud on the economy is a good time.

Then invest a small amount of money broadly in many vehicles. I like to put $50 or $100 in a coin for a month or two, so that I can track the action to be sure it looks sane.

Then if it starts trending, I double and quadruple my investment. Right now, I have an alphabet soup of Altcoin investments with $40-60 in them (depending on whether they went down or up) and only about 5 of them with more than $400 in them. If these coins follow the general trend for Bitcoin, which goes up nearly 400% every-other-year, then I am anticipating returns of about 1,200% per year from Altcoins. Keep the tax treatment in mind – as these investments are taxed as income and not as long or short-term gains.

13. Another Warning

Crypto markets trade 24 hours a day. If you have spent any time trading penny stocks or trending stocks, you are accustomed to the rhythm of pre-market, market and post-market hours. With Cryptos, the market runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The market commonly trends as soon as the US stock market closes. On many weekends you can see Bitcoin takes off just after 4 pm Eastern Time on Friday and carries that momentum through the weekend, only to lose it on Monday morning. Beware of the effect on your sleep and worry that your new investment will lose value if you fail to execute a 2am trade on your phone.

14. Investing on the Wild Side using DeFi (DEX) Markets

Starting in 2019, the DeFi markets have come into their own. This is a place you can make significant gains. The DeFi markets allow you to invest in the virtual birth of a Coin, and there are thousands of them. You can easily have a coin with such a low value that 1 trillion of them is not even $100. It raises the imaginary circumstance that if they rise to a penny, you can retire for life.

The DeFi coins all have convoluted reasons for existing and features that their designers hope will bring them into prominence. From the silly coins like WIFEDOGE (-1.935%) because DOGE needs a wife to the super-serious Greentrust (GNT 4.908%) which promises to offset the investing with green technology. GNT is now my most significant loss so far at about 85% lost (nearly $60 or 1.5 Chinese Dinners). Trading in these coins is speculation in its purest form – you buy a currency foolishly, hoping only to sell it for a higher price to the next fool.

15. Getting a DeFi Wallet

The vehicle for trading Defi Markets is a Defi Wallet. Popular wallets are MetaMask for your browser or Trust Wallet for your phone. These wallets give access to a trading Blockchain, like Binance Smart Chain or Polygon. Finally, within that chain, you can purchase DeFi tokens.

It is challenging to move money from your Bank to the top tier exchanges, to the DeFi chains. This is convoluted because you are moving through levels of deregulation of your money. So be careful to only move money you can afford to lose – and never borrowed money or your emergency funds.

The Crypto markets use the term “Fiat” to mean US Dollars, which are worthless without the trust of the US Government. So in their words, Crypto is Real because it tangibly exists on the blockchain, and Fiat is Fake because it has no value except that people agree to honor the face value of a piece of paper. So you are moving your money from the Fake world to the Real-world, which takes time and effort.

Both Coinbase and Binance have holding requirements of about ten days before you can withdraw funds to the blockchain world. Then you need a third-party utility like Uniswap or Binance Wallet to effect the withdrawal into the blockchain.

16. Procedure for Moving from Fiat to DeFi – from Dollars to Pancakeswap

  1. Withdraw US Dollars from your bank account into a Binance.US. You can purchase BNB OR BUSD here, but you need to let it sit for ten days.
  2. Then withdraw into a compatible chain – like Binance Chain.
  3. Once in the chain, convert it to a DeFi chain for the token family you want to buy. So convert Binance Chain BEP2 to Binance Smart Chain BEP-20.
  4. Finally, move the money into the more obscure coins supported by that chain. Sift through the features, and make some test investments.

Again, my experience is to start with a $50 investment to start, and then $100 and only if it feels right to work with more significant amounts of money. For me, $50 is the cost of a takeout Chinese Dinner, something we do once or twice a month (with leftovers, it makes two dinners for my family).

17. Staking Rewards add Up To 90% APY to DeFi Profits

One of the things you can do with DeFi coins is to stake them. Staking a coin assists the market and gives you access to staking rewards. When other people trade the coin, or “stake” is rewarded. For this activity, I am most impressed with Pancakeswap and their CAKE ( 2.84%) coin. Currently, if you stake CAKE, you can earn about 80% APY – that is – about 5% per month. Your earnings are dwarfed by the movement in the underlying coin, which has gone up 25% in the last three months. Like Bitcoin – from its recent High in April 2021 to its low in June 2021 was an 80% drop. On the other hand, if you had purchased CAKE in January 2021, you would now have a 2,900% profit.

The 2,900% profit in 9 months is completely dwarfed by SAFEMOON ( 1.911%), which launched in March 2021. If you had invested $1,000 at launch, you would have made $3.5 million two months later.

As Willie Sutton observed – “Because that is where the money is.” For 2022, where you want to be is in Altcoins, Staking and watching the breakout opportunities.

Summary

If you ever dream of being one of the early Bitcoin investors, spending 10,000 bitcoin for a Pizza, only to have that amount grow to be worth $400 million in 10 years, do not think those days are over. A simple strategy of investing $100 evenly over 100 coins, total $10,000 investment, will likely yield 50 complete losses, 40 break evens, and 10 winners. But if even one of those winners makes $100,000, you would call this the best investment of your life.

Stay safe and only play with money you can afford to lose. But it may be worthwhile to skip a Chinese dinner tonight and to push the $40 over to walk on the wild side of DeFi and DEX Cryptocurrency.

Amazing New Way to Share Google Calendar with Outlook – Automatic and Free

It takes just five seconds for DejaFlow to update Outlook when you change Google. CompanionLink has delivered this fast, low-cost PC app for nearly a decade. Today CompanionLink is launching DejaFlow. DejaFlow is a low-cost online service that connects Google with Outlook online, for free, without needing to install anything on your PC or Mac.

Thousands of services connect to Google Calendar, but most business people use Outlook.

Subscribe to Google Means You Are Publishing Your Personal Calendar

Outlook has a primitive ability to subscribe to a Google Calendar. However, this requires you to publish the calendar on the open world-wide-web which is hardly private. So there is a pressing need to connect the two.

Microsoft’s Solution

Microsoft Power Automate is an expensive, complex tool that cannot do the simple task that customers need; Add, Change and Delete Appointments and Recurring Events, with two-way sync between Outlook and Google. 

Everyone has just one calendar, with a choice of keeping it on Google or Outlook. You place your appointments on it. You depend on your PC or Phone to ring alarms to notify you of places to be and things to do. Having a phone that uses Google and a Computer that uses Outlook makes it hard to schedule and plan. 

Other Expensive Solutions Do Not Complete the Task

Vendors like Zapier and Power Automate have tried to make a toolkit to handle this task. But 95% of business customers do not need a toolkit; they need something that works. 

The Company with Experience

CompanionLink understands your needs. We have created products to fulfill this need for 30 years. We know all about how calendars work with each of the vendors, both Microsoft and Google. And we are good at it which keeps our costs low. As a result, we can reflect these low costs to our customers with low service fees. 

DejaFlow connects Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks from Gmail and Google workspaces accounts. 

These can connect to any online Microsoft account, including Office 365, Corporate Exchange, Microsoft Teams, and Free Office.Com/Hotmail Accounts.

Planned updates will add a direct connection to Apple iCloud, Act! CRM, Pocket Informant, and DejaCloud.

IMAP and POP3 Solution

For Outlook customers who use IMAP and POP3 folders, the calendar information does not store online. For you, CompanionLink offers CompanionLink for Google for windows-based PCs and CompanionLink for Mac for macOS computers. The installed software will automatically synchronize from our local calendar to the online calendar.

Office 365, Exchange, Teams Connector for Google

DejaFlow is a SaaS website to connect Outlook Calendar with Google Calendar. Setup is a simple three-step process; Create a DejaFlow account, identify your Outlook and Google Calendars, and press Sync. The initial connection takes about two minutes for most people, and DejaFlow automatically matches any duplicate entries. Once Connected, any change in Google Calendar, and any change in Outlook Calendar, will flow to the other side within about 10 seconds. 

500 Records for Free

You can use DejaFlow for Free! As long as you have 500 records or less, you can use the service forever without a charge. Most people have less than 500 records in their calendar. 

Corporate Accounts as Low as $1.50 per User per Month

Most businesses will have more than 500 records. Companies should plan on paying $1.50 to $5 per month per user for the DejaFlow service, which is still just a fraction of the cost of competing services. 

For 2 Connectors up to 5,000 records, DejaFlow costs $4.95 per month or $39.95 per year. 

For 5 Connectors (5 users) and 30,000 records, the cost is $11.95 per month or $99.95 per year. 

Both Free and Paid customers can take advantage of CompanionLink’s email and telephone technical support. 

About CompanionLink Software:

 CompanionLink® Software, Inc. is a pioneer in developing data synchronization solutions for mobile phones and CRM software and services. They also have generated a DejaOffice® for Outlook® App which runs on Android™, iPhone®, iPad®, Windows Phone®, and BlackBerry® devices. For 30 years, CompanionLink has helped mobilize information across devices, computers, applications, and web-based services. For more information, please visit www.companionlink.com and www.dejaoffice.com.

CompanionLink, DejaOffice, and DejaCloud are registered trademarks of CompanionLink Software, Inc. Other product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Top Ways to Stop Climate Change – Five Actions You and Your Small Business Can Take Today

In Portland, Oregon, we thought we would become a climate change paradise. Blessed with 150 days of rain per year, a cool maritime climate, and a low population, we looked at reports of warming weather and rising oceans as a distant problem for our sympathy.

That changed on June 24, 2021, when record-setting heat baked our region, killing 116 people and leaving our green landscape desiccated. In one short week, sleepy rainy Portland became the center of climate change in the United States.

Portland’s Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake showing Glaciers Shrinking

It is easy for us to see the visible effects of warming. A sea-level city, most parts of Portland have an outstanding view of Mt Hood, 11,249 feet, just fifty miles away. Hood stays glaciated year-round. Ski season runs well into August. So in Portland, all you need to do is look at the mountain to see the rapid shifts of the melting glaciers.

What happened in June was not as much warming over three days. There was abnormally low rainfall in the preceding three months. This left the soil dryer than usual. When the long days of June arrived, the dry soil could not release the level of moisture needed to become local rain clouds. Without the normal rain clouds to moderate the direct sunlight, the 16 hours of June sun raised the heat of the stagnant air of Oregon’s inter mountain valleys.

The average daily high for Portland in June is 78 °F.

Before 2021 the record high was 107 °F.

On Saturday, June 26, the record was broken at 108 °F. Sunday 112 °F. Monday 116 °F.

In three record-setting days, the weather records for 100 years were broken three times. The new high-temperature record was 9°F higher than the previous record, and 40°F higher than average. 116 People died. Portland joined Las Vegas and Phoenix as the third record high for a major US city. Portland now has the highest temperature record of any city in the world north of the 45th parallel.

1. Understand what Drives Global Warming

No one knows the true driver of Climate Change, and anyone who claims to know is being mind-numbingly simplistic. But simply because the exact mechanism is not known does not mean you should not take steps.

There is clear evidence that climate change is linked to human population growth. We could quickly solve the entire problem by reducing the world population to the same as 200 years ago – the year 1820 – when the population was about 1 billion people.

Also in 1820 for the first time more than 50% of children in England lived past the age of 5. The C-Section of giving birth was invented in the 1600s. It took 200 years for the operation to be performed in a way that the woman giving birth lived through it. In 1820 – in an operation performed by a woman dressed as a male doctor. In 1820 women were not allowed to vote, because most people (including women) felt that women were not capable of becoming educated enough to vote responsibly. Finally, in 1820, the average life expectancy in the US was 28 years. So in a 1 billion person world, gentle reader, you are well beyond your expiration date.

The exact mechanism by which humans cause Climate Change is not known. Leading human-related candidates are CO2 emissions, methane emissions from our food animals, and deforestation. The leading non-human candidates are volcanism and sunspots (solar storms). Clearly, our planet is a series of massive systems in stasis; our ice caps drive weather, which causes wind and tides. If the weather were to change, systems that have been stable for millennia become unstable. The instability will make us uncomfortable.

2. Define your Role in this Battle

Your first and primary step is to define your role in this battle. You are perfectly free to state that climate change is based on volcanoes, sun spots, or is not happening at all. You are free here in Portland to not look up at our ever-present Mount Hood, to stay inside on warm days, and not to have a garden that becomes notably parched. You are equally free to join the Flat Earth society and fly to Flat Earth events on airplanes that circle the globe.

While Al Gore and Greta Thunberg can inspire you, acting like them will expose you to criticism that wastes your time and energy. You do not need to be a leader. Somewhere in the middle is an area to find a comfortable role. Today it seems altogether normal that women think and mature the same as men. One hundred years ago, women were considered so ill-adapted to education that the US became only the 22nd country to allow women to vote. In US Elections for the first 140 years – women could not vote. If you stated today what politicians and scientists said in those times, you would be fired from your job and laughed out of the bar (by the woman bartender!)

Acknowledge that the world is changing, that the mechanism is not entirely clear, and that the people can make individual efforts to address the change will make you a groundbreaking revolutionary. As others around you change their thinking, it is better to be a voice of the future, and not an idiot from the past.

3. Encourage Corporate Responsibility

Google proudly displays “Carbon Neutral since 2007” on their web page. You see it every day. This does not mean that Google is Climate Neutral, their staff does not use energy, or Sergey Brin has given up flying to Davos. It simply means that Google has made a slight shift to ensure the power they directly use is created using green energy or offset by carbon dioxide mitigating procedures.

Exxon has spent 40 years denying and fighting climate change, only to now turn around and embrace it. If you stay away from the judgment that one part is wrong and the other part is good, you can come to understand the breadth and power of this remarkable shift in perspective by a corporate giant. Surely as individuals and small business owners, we can quietly make our shift. There is no need to commit, over-promise or launch at wild targets. Instead, just as we slowly shift vendors, work styles, and office locations over time, we can also choose to support carbon-neutral or climate-enhancing efforts deliberately.

4. Subsidize Green Alternatives

Like Google, here in the US, you can choose green energy from your electricity supplier. Unfortunately, it costs a little more right now. In theory, if oil goes to a higher price, green energy pricing will stay stable. Solar roofing and solar panels are impractical but improving. Support the people who are testing this technology. Turn your thermostat down, learn the value of walking rather than driving. Each small step is a simple choice.

Nothing you can do today will have a real effect. Giving up meat, living in the cold or heat, driving an electric car with a super toxic lithium battery will not produce change. But change will happen because of the collective actions of many individuals. Take time to find and educate yourself, and remember, that yourself is the only thing that you can change. Do not tell other people what to do; it annoys them, and is toxic for you. Change yourself, and they can change by your experience.

5. Be Patient and Persistent

The headlines harp about “Atlantic Current Stalling” or “We must take action now to stop it”. These click-bait headlines are as ignorant as the women cannot be educated so they cannot vote, flat earth society, global conference. The Atlantic current may stall in 300 years, but you will have to live to be 150 to know whether it will happen. In 100 years there will still be glaciers on Mt Hood, the tide will still go out in Miami, and Portland will still have rain 150 days a year.

You can harass your local government today, but the high-temperature next year will not change.

In 2020 we participated in an amazing real-world experiment. Because of COVID, nearly the entire industrial world went many months in lockdown. Factories were shut. Cars were idle. For more than a year, restaurants, theaters, cruise ships, and airlines ran at minimal levels.

So what was the effect on climate change? None!

A year of lockdown for the industrial world is insufficient to budge one data point off climate change. The climate is so huge, our individual efforts are like a mouse trying to herd an elephant.

Your serenity and peace will come when you review your role. You need not be a leader, and you need not be morbidly stupid. If you are open and willing to make an effort when possible then great things are ahead for you.

Summary

There is a technological solution to climate change on the horizon. Just as a world of COVID shutdown did not affect the global climate, we are on the verge of new technologies that may begin to make a change. For example, Norway is backing an approach to decrease Global CO2 levels using carbon storage technology. Dubai has released a drone army to create a wetter microclimate for their sunny city. A similar drone effort in Portland may have cooled our days in June to preserve the previous 107F record.

For the rest of your life and the life of everyone you know, our climate will get warmer. This is set not just in stone but in the climate, which has proved to be even more enduring than stone. In addition, things we thought were stable, like Portland’s 150 days of rain a year, are now unstable and changing before our eyes. We cannot stop this. But we can accept it, learn about it, and make a positive contribution through individual choices.

Kaseya Ransomware Attack – 5 Things to Do to Protect your Business

Ah, lovely holiday weekend. We closed early on Friday. All the staff is enjoying family time. Many are out of town. The ideal time for a horrific ransomware attack to shut down hundreds of businesses and cost millions of dollars. Happy Independence Day!

In my 30 years of running our business servers, I have noticed that system penetration attacks, denial of service attacks, and brute force email spam increases at the times and dates when US staff is away from their server. Clearly the attackers hope that people are not watching the server messages that hint that a system has been compromised.

Starting mid-afternoon on July 2nd, an nefarious group succeeded in compromising a network security reseller named Kaseya. Through Kaseya’s VSA management tools, they hit IT related businesses with ransomware. Ransomware is software that locks a server or data files and then demands a ransom to unlock them.

Kaseya Underwhelms in Response

True to holiday mode, the response from Kaseya has been underwhelming. They claim to be the victim. They claim only a few customers are affected. They state they had complete control of the attack within two hours. They offer a solution to turn off any server using their service. Meanwhile, because of the attack, a chain of 500 stores is closed in Sweden, paralyzed 200 US Companies, and caused thousands of network technicians to return to work to mitigate the damage. What is missing in Kaseya’s response is a sense of responsibility and scope. It is clear that Kaseya’s management is still by the barbecue and not in the office.

Is your Business Affected? Is your Business Next?

The year 2021 has been awash in cyberattack and ransomware news. If you are not now taking steps, then you should think about it. Like any disease, these attacks are like a virus, and you can take steps to avoid your company getting sick. This may save you thousands of dollars. Here are five steps you can take this month to lower your risk.

1. Recognize Phishing Email in all its Forms

Hillary Clinton would have become president if it wasn’t for a mistake made by Democratic Chairman John Podesta. The campaign was a target, and they already knew there were emails sent their way for information. John clicked twice and entered his email credentials. Within minutes, 50,000 campaign emails were in Russian hands, and Hillary’s campaign was toast. How could any high-level manager fall for a simple spoof?

The spoofs are getting pretty good. It takes an effort not to click. We all get them. What is typical now is they come in a short email, with no explanation and a simple and logical attachment. The only clue is that the sender is not known.

Sometimes the sender is known or even a known vendor. Here at CompanionLink, a quick view of our publicly available DNS reveals that we use Rackspace for business emails. You can guess we get many messages that claim to be from Rackspace. Things like “Phone message from Rackspace” (we do not get phone service from them), or Mailbox Full, or Mailbox Corrupted. My favorite is the ones that make you panic – “Your credit card has been billed for $6,533.32” or “Your bank account has been closed for fraud.”

Avoid the panic. Tell your staff to forward all odd messages without clicking. Then, if needed, log into your Email Portal or Bank to ensure there is no actual problem.

2. Train your Staff – Really – to Recognize and Mitigate Risks

We all know the drill. You have a 30-minute meeting with your Vice President to underscore the importance of security for your business and your customers. He tells the tech manager in 4 sentences and maybe sends an email to all. Your team managers respond upstream in glowing terms, and then behind your back, convey a “don’t screw up” message downstream. The line staff gets the message: “Please don’t leave food in the refrigerator more than 3 days, remember to buy a secret Santa gift, and do not take down the entire company with an insecure password.” Unfortunately, the line staff just treats it as another empty command from from the top.

The most common method of attack is phishing emails

The SolarWinds attack vector is not known. What is known, however, is that for five years, certain SolarWinds systems were available using the password Solarwinds123. While the company CEO claims they immediately locked out the password after being notified that it was publicly available, others dispute both the timeline and the extent of the password use.

This goes beyond simply choosing a good password. And it goes beyond any automated system that forces you to change passwords frequently. The best hygiene is to ensure every system you have has a different password and your passwords are stored securely. These are opposing goals but worthy of taking time to get it right.

3. Do not use Unnecessary Vendors

SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, and Kaseya show the vulnerability when an IT vendor becomes the source of a security breach. A company whose only fault is to purchase services from a vendor is suddenly left with a million-dollar mess.

For the most part, you can identify your IT vendors by looking at the bills you pay. If you pay for a service, your company may be vulnerable to a breach of that service. Keep a close eye on payments large and small because instead of paying them, they may cost you. Be sure the service is necessary and justified. Check your emails for unpaid providers like Facebook and Google, since these notices mean that you are paying by having your information sold (advertising) rather than from your bank account.

4. Do not Trust the Cloud

People who trust the cloud are the same ones that sign agreements without reading them. Their trust is misguided. You can be sure those click-through agreements have huge loopholes for data breaches. Your best security is not to be a target. Staying small and anonymous may work better than making waves and becoming a victim.

The Microsoft Exchange attack targeted corporations that run their own private Exchange servers. The problem was not systems that were up to date but systems that were lagging in updates. These were companies that made the best effort to run secure servers but that had fallen a bit behind on maintenance, which was not surprising during the COVID era. Most companies focused on how to pay staff and not on whether to install routine security updates.

For Email that is internet-based, you are safer using IMAP protocol that does not connect to LDAP logins which may allow system-level passwords. For in-house systems, like CRM, there are still many vendors that can supply an on-premise CRM that is a fraction of the cost of a cloud system and that ensures that even if your internet is down – your customer data is safe within your corporate firewall.

5. Beware of Security Dominoes

A security domino is any system that, when breached, leads to other systems that may be breached. Password vendors Lastpass and 1Password are targets for bad players. And it would be best if you kept in mind that Yahoo and AOL have been breached multiple times, as have Facebook and Twitter. Even Apple, who sticks its finger in Microsoft’s eye on viruses, has been found guilty of sickening silence when 128 million iPhone users were hacked.

For corporate servers, ensure that your logins are qualified not just by password, 2FA, and 3 Dimensions, but ensure their IP matches a minimal set of known IPs. Do not use IP location since any VPN user easily spoofs location. You need to limit access to the specific IP network that your team uses. Primitive firewalls like Iptables can sometimes block better than sophisticated ones that allow anyone to get to a login screen. The networks your team uses are limited and known. Strength lies in simplicity.

Ending

To the management of Kaseya, your company got attacked. Start your message by taking responsibility – until known otherwise – your company was vulnerable to an attack. If you did your job right, this attack would not have happened. Start by owning that fact.

Hundreds of IT workers got their holiday ruined. Reach out. Tell them that Kaseya management is called back at the office and will stay full-time to ensure the fastest possible response.

Finally, reach out to your customers – who have been damaged – to help mitigate their future losses and explain what you are doing to make up for their current losses. You have insurance. They do not.

For everyone else – sit down on Tuesday with your monthly vendor bills, and go through one-by-one. Make sure you are protected if that vendor is breached. The year 2021 has seen an unprecedented rise in successful ransomware attacks, and the trend is not in your favor.

New Way to Sync Google Calendar with Outlook – Automatic and Free

It takes just five seconds for DejaFlow to update Outlook when you change Google. CompanionLink has delivered a low-cost PC app with this amazing speed for nearly a decade. Today CompanionLink is launching DejaFlow. DejaFlow is a low-cost online service that connects Google with Outlook online, for free, without needing to install anything on your PC or Mac.

Businesses need a Simple Connector

Thousands of services are tied to Google Calendar, but most business people use Outlook. Outlook has a primitive ability to subscribe to a Google Calendar.  However, this requires you to publish the calendar on the open world-wide-web which is hardly private.

Existing Tools are Expensive and Complex

So there is a pressing need to connect the two. Microsoft Power Automate is an expensive, complex tool that cannot do the simple task that customers need; Add, Change and Delete Appointments and Recurring Events, with two-way sync between Outlook and Google.

Everyone has just one calendar. You may keep it on Outlook or on Google. You place your appointments on it. You depend on your PC or Phone to ring alarms to notify you of places to be and things to do. Having a phone that uses Google and a Computer that uses Outlook makes it hard to schedule and plan.

Vendors like Zapier and Power Automate have tried to make a toolkit to handle this task. But 95% of business customers do not need a toolkit; they need something that works.

Free, fast and automatic connector for Google Calendar, Contacts and Tasks with Outlook 365, Microsoft Teams and Outlook.Com

The Experienced Pioneer of Calendar Sync

CompanionLink understands your needs. We have created products to fulfill this need for 30 years. We know all about how calendars work with each of the vendors, both Microsoft and Google. And we are good at it which keeps our costs low. As a result, we can reflect these low costs to our customers with low service fees.

DejaFlow connects Calendar, Contacts and Tasks from Gmail and Google workspaces accounts.

These can be connected to any online Microsoft account, including Office 365, Corporate Exchange, Microsoft Teams, and Free Office.Com/Hotmail Accounts.

Planned updates will add a direct connection to Apple iCloud, Act! CRM, Pocket Informant, and DejaCloud.

POP3 and IMAP Solution

For Outlook customers who use IMAP and POP3 folders, the calendar information is not stored online. For you, CompanionLink offers CompanionLink for Google for windows-based PCs and CompanionLink for Mac for macOS computers. The installed software will automatically synchronize from our local calendar to the online calendar.

Online Calendar Solution

DejaFlow is a SaaS website to connect Outlook Calendar with Google Calendar. Setup is a simple three-step process; Create a DejaFlow account, identify your Outlook and Google Calendars, and press Sync. The initial connection takes about two minutes for most people, and DejaFlow automatically matches any duplicate entries. Once Connected, any change in Google Calendar, and any change in Outlook Calendar, will flow to the other side within about 10 seconds.

You can use DejaFlow for Free! As long as you have 500 records or less, you can use the service forever without a charge. Most people have under 500 records in their calendar.

Affordable Pricing

Most businesses will have more than 500 records. Companies should plan on paying $1.50 to $5 per month per user for the DejaFlow service, which is still just a fraction of the cost of competing services.

For 2 Connectors up to 5,000 records, DejaFlow costs $4.95 per month or $39.95 per year.

For 5 Connectors (5 users) and 30,000 records, the cost is $11.95 per month or $99.95 per year.

Both Free and Paid customers can take advantage of CompanionLink’s email and telephone technical support.

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About CompanionLink Software

CompanionLink® Software, Inc. is a pioneering developer of data synchronization solutions for mobile phones and CRM software and services. They also develop a DejaOffice® for Outlook® App which runs on Android, iPhone®, iPad®, Windows Phone®, and BlackBerry® devices. For 30 years, CompanionLink has helped mobilize information across devices, computers, applications, and web-based services. For more information, please visit www.companionlink.com and www.dejaoffice.com.

CompanionLink, DejaOffice and DejaCloud are registered trademarks of CompanionLink Software, Inc. Other product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

How to USB Sync Outlook to iPhone now that iTunes has Dropped it

Did you panic when you saw this message?

"Support for the synching calendars and contacts has been deprecated and will be removed in a future version of itunes".

Do not worry! There is a 3rd Party product that has supported secure USB sync from Outlook to iPhone and iPad for more than a decade.

USB Sync is Secure and Safe

Face it, the reason people use iPhones is because Apple Devices are more secure than the competition. The most secure way to move your valuable customer information and schedule is to use USB Sync. Information on the Cloud is subject to hackers and man-in-the-middle attacks. While iCloud itself has not had a massive breach, individual iCloud accounts are commonly hacked and the data distributed by rogue players. Once your account is known, everything you store on iCloud is visible to the cybercriminal.

For years, iTunes has had good support for Outlook Contact and Calendar sync to iPhone. You simply connect your phone, let iTunes Sync run, and your phone list and calendar are populated with your Outlook data.

It is worth remembering that Apple, masted in Cupertino, California, is still frienemies with Microsoft based in Redmond, Washington. While they publicly support each other, they continue to be competitive in many markets including Gaming, Streaming TV, Streaming Music, and at one time Smartphone Operating systems. Apple has also had a longstanding war with cables, seeking to free their phone from any sort of connection that may carry viruses or breach the security of the phone. By focusing on iCloud and internet-based connections, Apple feels they can better serve people who desire security.

CompanionLink to the Rescue!

CompanionLink shares the value of ensuring that your Contact and Calendar data is secure. A company strongly rooted in the Palm Pilot days, CompanionLink has supported Outlook Sync from the first-month Outlook was released. Their strength is that they work with any type of Outlook Folder, POP3, IMAP, Exchange and Office 365 folders, and with all versions of Outlook.

The CompanionLink for Outlook supports USB Sync to Apple iPhone and iPad. It can easily synchronize your Contacts and Calendar to the native iOS Contacts and Calendar. It can do this securely and easily. CompanionLink is easy to set up, with only a few settings screens needed to establish the sync system. After that, you just hit a button whenever you need your data updated.

Dedicated App for your Outlook Data

The CompanionLink system features DejaOffice, which provides Tasks and Notes support. Apple iTunes has never fully incorporated Tasks or Notepad. CompanionLink also can preserve Outlook Calendar colors on appointments, something that not even Microsoft’s Outlook App can do. You can download DejaOffice from the Apple App Store today. This is a free app.

The task of switching from iTunes to CompanionLink is simple, and takes about 15 minutes. Follow this handy guide.

CompanionLink offers Secure Wi-Fi Sync as an alternative – in case you are ready to ditch the cable connection. They also provide an internet based Cloud sync called DejaCloud which is useful for offices that update your schedule while you are traveling since the data moves from your office to your phone without regard to what state or country your phone is in.

You can download a free 14-day trial of CompanionLink for Outlook. If you need help, the company provides free technical support by calling +1(503)243-3400 or by emailing support@companionlink.com.

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Best Productivity App for Task Management

You definitely need to try nTask. Primarily an online task management software, designed and developed primarily for teams, this tool gives you all the options to live life as productive as it can be.

Loaded with a comprehensive and sophisticated feature set, this free productivity app presents itself with a simplified interface, easily learned and used by homemakers to freelancers and teams to enterprises to get more productive.

nTask is a simple all-in-one task and project management app that provides its users with comprehensive seven natively built modules including tasks, projects, risks, issues, and meeting management.

This means you don’t have to juggle between multiple apps for getting things done hence making you more productive. These modules facilitate the teams to avoid paying for third-party integrations or constant switching between multiple tools for numerous projects and multiple workspaces.

You can keep notes and use it as a simple to-do list app or create an idea or chore as a task. It helps you to create projects and assign multiple tasks to them. This helps you to easily track ideas, monitor task status, and project progress through Gantt charts.

Plus, with resource planning and budget allocation, you can keep your teams productive and project implementation effective throughout the project development cycle.

According to Lucid Agency – an award-winning agency specializing in digital marketing, advertising, and user-focused web & app design, “This is a great option for small development teams that have a need for free bug-tracking or task assignment.”

This top Productivity app also helps you stay in sync with updates and keeps you and your team on track through reminders and alerts.

#1 free productivity apps - nTask

Key Features:

With so many features nTask has to offer, here is a glimpse of its key features:

  • Two-Factor Authentication for extensive security
  • A simple user interface with access to a wide range of modules.
  • Team specific workspaces that can be managed and monitored simultaneously.
  • Create, assign, organize, prioritize and share tasks
  • Create and assign projects
  • Comment on and assign tasks to projects or structure them independently
  • Convert comments to tasks using Slack
  • Select from multiple statuses for a task
  • Extensive project management resources including project reports, Gantt charts, and project timelines to manage and monitor project progress
  • A dedicated timesheets management and time tracking module with the option of creating and managing team-specific sections for employee task efforts and payroll.
  • A detailed meeting management feature to help teams stay in sync. You can arrange and schedule meetings, be it one time or recurring meetings. Plus, it lets you send invites to attendees, add meeting details, and specify follow-up procedures.
  • Issue management module to facilitate the identification and listing down of issues related to multiple tasks. You can list the issue along with the Issue owner and relevant details to track issue maintenance.
  • Risk management helps you identify and keep track of potential risks. You can list down the risk and assign a risk owner in order to track risk management.
  • Powerful search and filter tools that help you search for tasks, projects, meetings, issues, and risks. You can even save more frequently used filters.
  • Alerts, notifications, and reminders to keep teams on track.
  • Third-party access
  • nTask is one of the best iPad Productivity Apps and Best Android Productivity Apps

Pricing Plans:

  • Free and Pro (starting at $1 per month per user with annual billing) plans.

nTask

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Average rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 14 reviews.


Price $2.99

Notable mentions:

  • Skyrocket team productivity with nTask, it’s free! Manage all your tasks, projects, meetings, timesheets and more in one place. Sign up today!

Switch from Exchange to MAPI and Still get an Outlook App on your Android and iPhone

Suddenly, there is an overwhelming reason for corporations to change from Exchange to MAPI. The Hafnium hack of Microsoft Exchange has hit more than 30,000 US corporations. The Zero Day Hack hits an exchange vulnerability that has been in the code since it was written ten years ago. More than anything else, this tells us that storing data in The Cloud is not secure.

What is IMAP

The first Email Protocol was known as POP – Post Office Protocol, and its most popular implementation is POP3. IMAP was created in the late 1980s as an alternative. For Email handling, IMAP has proven to be a simple and durable protocol that allows you to consume Email on multiple devices, like your PC and your phone, and answer it from either device.

Is MAPI Safer than Exchange

Exchange is written by Microsoft and is intended to be a more sophisticated mail handling system. Indeed, it introduced Push protocol which at the time made it faster than IMAP. While both IMAP and Exchange store Contacts and Calendar information, IMAP was more closely tied to Microsoft Outlook and had a better implementation. Microsoft removed IMAP handling for Outlook Contacts in 2010.

Microsoft has a new agenda to merge Exchange and Azure services and wrap many tools under a single security protocolTherein lies the weakness exposed by Hafnium. Microsoft’s many corporate mergers expose them to the shift from Pareto Principle to the Peter Principle. In wrapping Exchange, Microsoft allowed exchange logins full access to Azure services on a Corporate Server. The hack involves accessing the logins, and taking a minor user and giving them Super Admin privileges. Because Microsoft now allows Echange Users to access non-exchange resources, the new Super Admin might enable full access to the entire corporate network.

Microsoft Cumulative Updates

Many corporate Exchange sites have run into a secondary issue. The Hafnium Patch issued by Microsoft assumes your Exchange is fully up to date. For many sites, Exchange updates have been deferred to focus on maximum utility by the company. Suddenly, years worth of updates have to be applied. Updating complex and customized software is never easy, and many sites have been brought down because the cumulative update process fails. It leaves the corporation unable to receive or send Email, share data, or update their Outlook on PC and Phone.

IMAP to the Rescue

Switching the Corporation back to IMAP is a quick and easy way to get the corporate Email back flowing again. At least on this level, emails from customers, vendors and leads can be exchanged. The IT department then gets time to consider the options. Any sites that are truly hacked need to rebuild their servers from scratch. Sites that only got cumulative update failure might install fresh Exchange and try to import past data into it. Either process can take days or weeks to implement.

Replacing Outlook App on Android and iPhone

With Email restored using Outlook, the next thing a corporation needs to look at is replacing the Outlook App on their iPhones, iPads, and Android Devices. The Outlook App has three main functions; Email, which is already handled by the phones, Contacts and Calendar. Luckily there are many alternatives.

Setting up IMAP Email on your Cell Phone

To set up Email on your Phone, you go to the Email App and enter your IMAP credentials. As soon as you do this, your Email will come to the Phone. You can also do this on your PC Outlook, and then your IMAP email comes to your Phone and your PC.

Sync Outlook Contacts and Calendar to your Phone

The next task is to restore the Contact database and Calendar from Outlook to your Phone. Exchange handled these by storing the contacts and calendar on the Exchange Server. This server is not available with an IMAP mailbox. So it is required that you install some soft of Sync Software to your PC. Here is a Guide to switching Contact and Calendar Sync from Exchange to MAPI. The requirement is that this software sync from the local Outlook IMAP folder directly to your iPhone, iPad or Android Phone.

A common and inexpensive product that synchronizes from Outlook IMAP Folders to iPhone and Android is CompanionLink for Outlook. CompanionLink is very easy to set up and offers many options. The primary method for sync is DejaCloud, which is like Exchange in offering Realtime Push sync. The CompanionLink solution requires DejaOffice on your Phone. DejaOffice works like the Outlook App but mirrors more features of Outlook. DejaOffice fully supports Outlook category colors, tasks and notes on your Android and iPhone, none of which are handled by the Outlook App. But the most prominent feature is DejaOffice does not use Exchange protocol, which is unaffected by either the Hafnium hack or the cumulative Exchange update issues.

Share and Schedule Outlook Calendars in your Office

CompanionLink also offers an Outlook-based CRM product that can share Outlook calendars between users, even when using IMAP folders. This product is called DejaOffice PC CRM Pro, and it costs just $40 one-time-price per user. The key is that DPCP can store everyone’s data on a central server, allowing Calendar sharing on many PCs.

Multiple Calendar Sharing with Remote PCs

DejaOffice PC CRM also can share the database with remote offices. It uses the same push sync system to allow people to see their tasks and schedule changes instantly. So this is a robust system that replaces many of the multiple user facets of Microsoft Office and Sharepoint without engaging the Exchange server vulnerabilities. The DejaCloud sharing cost is low; about $20 per user per year, and the first year is free when you purchase the Professional DejaOffice license for your office.

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If One Bitcoin is Worth 60 Cars, Should I Buy Bitcoin Now?

Recently BofA analyst Francisco Blanch issued a report called “Bitcoin’s Dirty Little Secrets”. The long-form-pdf file states “there’s no good reason to own bitcoin unless you see prices going up.” And A “single Bitcoin purchase at a price of ~$50,000 has a carbon footprint of 270 tons, the equivalent of 60 [internal combustion engine] cars. So that becomes the question of the day. Is one bitcoin worth 60 cars?

Is Power Consumption an issue with Bitcoin

Keeping in mind that this same investment advisor has also stated Bitcoin is “exceptionally volatile”, “impractical,” and an environmentally disastrous asset that is useless as a store of wealth or an inflation hedge. Of course, none of these statements address the fundamental question – Should I buy Bitcoin now?

Argument For Deferring Bitcoin Investment because of Power Management

The nature of Bitcoin is that the currency is based on a computational hash. Any commodity is priced according to its rarity. Gold is more expensive than Silver because it is less common. Diamonds are more expensive than Amethyst because it is less common. Bitcoins are “rare” because there is an intentional computation that makes new bitcoins harder to find. This process is called mining, and Bitcoin miners use power to create more bitcoins.

Worldwide Bitcoin mining uses a huge amount of computational power and needs electric power to run. The total power consumption is balanced against power price – as it would be impractical to mine if the cost of electricity exceeds the cost of Bitcoin. So as the price of Bitcoin goes up, more people mine it, and the more power is consumed by Bitcoin mining operations.

The Argument Against Deferring Bitcoin Investment because it Wastes Power

Unless you live in a tent, everything else in your life is balanced by this same power management discussion. For instance, your ability to travel on vacation is directly tied to airline tickets’ price, which is tied to the airline’s fuel cost. If fuel is cheap, you go far away, and if fuel is expensive, you stay close to home. I have never heard someone say they will defer a vacation because it would increase worldwide power consumption. The Bank of America analyst will not turn down the AC in his office because he is concerned about worldwide fuel consumption. To mix a personal choice with some over-arching goal is privileged thinking. Why not point out that the entire investment industry misuses computational resources to effect fast trading because slower trading would use less power? Newer computers use less power, so why does Bank of America still use old computers in their operations?

What is the True Argument?

The author points out that the bulk of the Bitcoin Power Consumption problem is because Chinese miners use Coal Based power which is cheap in their area. Suddenly privilege markers abound because he mixes ethnic bias and nationalism into his discussion. The implication that power usage by Chinese people is bad leaves unstated that power usage by privileged Americans, which one a per-capita basis is four times higher.

The author is simply pulling out garbage arguments to save his privilege and his job. Bitcoin is just as valid an investment as S&P 500 index funds. No one knows if it will go up today or down tomorrow. What people know is that over the past 20 years, it has consistently gone up. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

Is Bitcoin a Worthy Investment?

If you invested $1000 in Bitcoin in January 2017 (1 bitcoin), your investment would be worth approximately $60,000 today. If you invested $1000 in the popular S&P ETF called SPY – (4 shares), your investment would be worth $1558 today. So over four years, SPY has returned about a 50% rise in value. Bitcoin has returned a 6000% rise in value  Bank of America’s investment advisors charge approximately 2% per year to manage your account. So over four years, they would charge $80 for your SPY investment, lowering the net gain to only $300 for the four years. On the other hand, no advisor charges for Bitcoin, so you get the full rise in your pocket.

You can see that Bitcoin is a far better investment than Bank of America advisors can offer you. That is why they write garbage-filled misleading points that one Bitcoin will feed Chinese Menace Coal Miners and destroy the world.

You can easily offset the problem after Bitcoin makes you marvelously wealthy by donating a portion to the University of Sichuan to help disadvantaged Chinese youth. Do not forget to donate to the Unemployed-Investment-Advisor’s Children’s College Fund.

How to buy Bitcoin

Bitcoin is not easy to buy. It takes many forms. The more you learn, the more lost you can feel. There are also many investment rules to follow. You can buy Bitcoin or any alternative like Ethereum, or Dogecoin, or Stellar Lumens. US Tax rules mean you cannot easily hold Bitcoin in an IRA.

One easy way to invest in Bitcoin is to purchase an ETF that holds Bitcoin. As an ETF, you can do this with your IRA. Also, the tax consequences are clearly defined since you are simply holding an ETF. The common EFT for Cryptocurrencies are Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) or Grayscale Etherium Trust (ETH).

You can also purchase stock in companies that operate as miners like RIOT, or Bitcoin Exchange platforms like Coinbase. The stock movements in these companies follow the price of Bitcoin. Finally, there are hybrid bitcoin plays like Overstock (OSTK), which use to sell goods but became a big player in Bitcoin, PayPal (PYPL), and even NVDIA (NVDA), which makes chips that optimize bitcoin mining even though they are trying to get out of this business.

Bitcoin is an Easy Investment

You should never invest all of your capital in a single investment. Bitcoin is volatile. At worst, it has at times dropped more than 90% of its value. That means a $1000 investment today might become $100 tomorrow. But over the past ten years, Bitcoin has proven to be a durable asset with explosive value. If you can spare some play money today, perhaps in four years, you will again see something that matches past gains.

Note: The author has been long GBTC since Bitcoin was $400, and often smiles broadly.

What Google People API means for Apps that Sync Google Calendar with Outlook

In Spring 2020, Google announced that they will shut down Google Contacts v3 API in 2021. The Google Contacts API is the connection a Sync App uses to move Contact Data from Outlook to Google (Gmail) Contacts. Google released the Contacts API in 2006 and v3 around 2012, so it has had a six-year life span typical for Google data APIs.

Google Calendar and Contact Sync with Outlook

Nearly all Apps that Sync Google Calendar with Outlook Calendar include a link for Contact Sync. This sends data from Outlook Contacts to Gmail Contacts. Most people rely on Google Sync to share Contacts and Calendar from their Gmail account and smartphone.

Action Item – If you are using CompanionLink – You may be eligible for a free update for this change. Please check our Google People API Knowledgebase Page.

Microsoft Outlook lacks Google Sync Capability

Microsoft Outlook lacks a two-way sync facility for Google. You can set shared Calendars and Contact lists, but the method is arcane. More commonly, 3rd party apps like CompanionLink for Google provide an easy way of using Outlook and Google together. There are a range of products available, and they have varying capabilities. The critical thing to look for is whether real-time sync is supported. When you make a new appointment on your phone, does it come to Outlook automatically in just a few seconds? Also, are Outlook categories and calendar colors supported.

Google Contact v3 Deprecated

Google Contacts API v3 will shut down on June 15, 2021, five months away at the time of this writing. The Google People API, introduced four years ago, is replacing it. Most developers caution that the Google People API did not work well initially, so hopefully, Google has improved the API since that time.

June 2021 Update: Google has now started throwing the error. The error text is:

Contacts API is being deprecated. Migrate to People API to retain programmatic access to Google Contacts. See https://developers.google.com/people/contacts-api-migration.

Update Needed for Continued Service

Consumers need to be aware that any Google Outlook Sync product created before 2016 lacks support for the People API. Most products did not begin shifting until 2020, when Google announced the older API’s sunset date. A general rule is that if you have not installed a software update in the last four years, you should plan to get an update in 2021.

Here is a List of Google Calendar Sync Apps with status:

In general, most products will be on new revisions to support Google’s API change. If you have a purchased product, and your purchase was more than three years ago, you would be safe to assume an update is available for a reduced price from your vendor. Free and Open Source products (FOSS) will undergo revisions and continue to be a compelling choice for people who can tolerate beta software and do not need tech support.

June 2021 Update – Google has Updated Guidance

Migrate your Contacts API to People API before June 15, 2021, to ensure error-free API calls; API calls will otherwise return 100% errors by December 15, 2021.

Hello Google Cloud Developer,

We are writing to remind you of, as per our initial announcement in August 2020, the deprecation of the Google Contacts API, effective June 15, 2021. All Contacts API clients should migrate to Google People API before that date.

What do I need to know?

Starting June 15, 2021, API calls will begin returning errors at a steadily increasing rate, until the error rate reaches 100% on December 15, 2021, as outlined below:

June 15, 2021 – September 15, 2021: 1% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors
September 15, 2021 – December 15, 2021: 10% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors
December 15, 2021, and onward: 100% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors

What’s changed?

The new People API has the same functionality as the legacy Contacts API for all features, but with a new scope, resulting in the following exceptions for “Other Contacts”:Clients have read-only permissions for “Other Contacts.”
• Since sending mutate or write signals back to “Other Contacts” is not supported, your users will have to add the Other Contact as a My Contact if they wish to update its data fields.
• Only basic contact information for “Other Contacts” can be read through the API (for example, full name, email address, and phone number).

Additionally, the old Contacts scope (https://www.google.com/m8/feeds) provided access to both personal contacts and directory information.

You can learn more in the People API documentation.

Please note that the Domain Shared Contacts API is not affected by these changes.

What do I need to do?

To maintain access to Contact data, you need to migrate all Contacts API calls to People API before June 15, 2021.

With the People API, you will also need to implement new scopes, to ensure error-free API connections. In doing so, you will need to use the appropriate scope, depending on which API feature you wish to access:
• To access personal contacts – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts
• To access other contacts – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts.other.readonly
• To access directory information – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/directory.readonly

Your projects listed below are Contacts API clients and will begin to receive API call errors unless you migrate to People API before June 15, 2021:

If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact Google Workspace support.
Thanks for choosing Google Cloud.

Sincerely,
The Google Developers Team

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Short Take

Google has a habit of changing their APIs every six years. If it has been a few years since you purchased or installed your Google Outlook Sync App, plan on doing it again in 2021.