QR Codes – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Do you scan the QR Code for every business you enter? Have you been turned away from entering a venue because you haven’t signed in with a QR Code? Have you vented at business staff who request to see your sign-in? It’s a frustrating ‘new normal’ for many people, not just seniors, who are required to ‘sign-in’ to any venue before they enter, irrespective of how long they are there, or the purpose of their visit.

As you may be aware, in NSW (and many other Australian States and Territories) it is currently a Governement requirement for businesses of all shapes and sizes to capture certain visitor data that may be used by NSW Health to enable contact tracing in the event of a potential COVID-19 exposure. That is, the ability to contact people who visited a venue on a certain day and maybe even a certain time and talk to them about their movements, and any actions that they may be required to take as a result.

QR Codes (or Quick Response Codes) have been introduced to supposedly streamline the contact details collection process from a number of perspectives – the visitor, the business and the Government. Visitors, by law, must provide this data before they can enter a venue. Businesses, by law, must request this visitor data and be able to provide the means to collect the data – either electronically or manually, and make it available to NSW Health should it be requested. Contact tracing is currently considered a vital activity, for which we all have a role to play, in keeping ourselves and the community safe. The use of QR Codes also keeps things ‘contactless’ – so no need to pickup a pen, or touch any questionable surfaces!

Whilst QR Codes have become common place since the early days of the pandemic, they have been around for many years. The QR Code is the little (usually square) picture that looks like a series of different shapes and lines, not much bigger than a postage stamp. Similar to scanning barcodes in warehouses, when you scan a QR Code you gain access to information which could be about the business or product or upcoming event, for example.

An example QR Code

In the case of scanning a COVID-19 QR Code (which you do by using the camera app on your phone), you’re automatically taken to the Service NSW ‘app’ on your phone for you to sign-in and register your visit to the business. In the event you don’t have the Service NSW app installed, you’re taken to an online form to complete to register your vist. And most importantly, in the event that you don’t have a phone, or one that has the capabillity to read QR Codes, or you’re just having issues using your device to sign in, the onus is on the business to provide an alternate means for you to register your visit. This could be by providing you with electronic access to a business owned device for you to register your details, or a manual form for you to complete. Either way, you must provide your contact details before entering the business, irrespective of the purpose of your visit, or the intended duration. The business cannot refuse you entry based on you NOT having/using your own device to scan their QR Code, but they can refuse you entry if you refuse to register your visit.

So it would seem that QR Codes are a legitimate attempt to streamline the data collection process, fast-track entry to a venue and provide accurate and comprehensive visitor data should it be required for contact tracking – all of which is a good thing. The downside however is they can be incredibly frustrating to scan in and out every time on every visit to every store, even if its a quick trip to the cafe to grab a coffee (especially remembering to scan out). And the potentially incredibly ugly side of QR Codes is the venting of that frustration toward business staff who are being required to ‘police’ entry for the benefit of their own staff, other customers and the broader community.

Let’s all remember we’re in this together, and QR Codes were introduced to streamline processes all round. And remember, life is always better for everyone when you ‘Smile, Scan and Say Thank You’…you’re doing your bit!

COVID-19 Check-In Cards

You may not know that senior citizens, and those without smart phones, now have an easier way to check into venues they are visiting.

Service NSW has developed and released a COVID-19 Check-In card that is a hard-copy card (similar to a Driver’s License, except without your photo or ID details) that has a unique QR code that contains your registered contact details.

You can visit the Service NSW website to complete the Form to create your own personalised card. You just need to provide your First Name, Last Name and Contact Phone Number (Mobile or Landline), as well as a postal address (for printed cards), or email address (for downloaded cards). Once you’ve completed the Form, you can choose to have it posted to you in the mail and/or download a printable version for immediate use.

If you lose the card, or your contact details change, you simply create a new card using the Form again!

So now when you enter a COVID SAFE business, a staff member can scan your card and your visit will be electronically recorded with nothing further requried from yourself, or the business. Your details are kept safe and deleted by Service NSW after 28 days. The record of your attendance at the venue will only be disclosed to NSW Health for contact tracing purposes if required.

Whilst the card provides an alternate check-in method for those who don’t have smart phones, it does rely on businesses having the capability to be able to scan the card to allow for automated electronic capture of your contact details. And not all business, especially small businesses, have that technology in place, nor is it mandatory for them to do so.

Photo: Service NSW/ Facebook

In-Home Training

During the colder winter months of June, July and August 2021 when it is harder to get out and about, Conquered IT is offering One-on-One Training to Seniors over the age of 65 in the comfort of their own home for a significantly reduced rate of $30 for the initial 1hr session, and then $15 per hour for ALL subsequent training sessions in that 3mth period.  Or alternatively, you can pre-purchase 5hrs (which can be used separately or in blocks) of In-Home IT Training for only $100 (a saving of $50 on our standard fees for in-home training services).

Training can be conducted in any of the courses available in the Course Catalog – just browse the catalog and let us know the topics of interest and we can map a training plan out for you that best meets what you want to cover.  We can arrange a date and time to suit you as well.  We bring all the equipment needed, and you can use your own device, or follow along on one of ours – up to you!

Send us an email if this offer is something of interest – info@conqueredit.com.au, or call Peter on 0468 988 438 to discuss it further.

Which Data Plan Should I Choose?

Internet Service Providers offer different data plans at different prices. It pays to research the different providers to see who might offer the best deal for you. Here’s a few pointers to get you started:

  • Finding the right home or mobile data plan depends on what you want to mostly use the
    internet for;
  • Most plans are divided into Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. The size refers to how
    much data is included in the allowance;
  • Comparison websites such as iselect.com.au and whistelout.com.au can help you find a deal on a mobile or home internet plan; and
  • Data plans can be purchased from an internet or mobile phone provider. You can buy one from a shop, over the internet, or by phone.

And, of course, if you need any assistance with choosing the right data plan, then we’re here to help. Reach out at info@conqueredit.com.au or 0468 988 438.

Staying Safe with Online Banking

Keeping your account details and passwords secure is critical for a safer online banking experience. Here are some simple safety steps when banking online to protect your money and finances:

  • always access your bank’s website by typing the address directly into your computer browser;
  • keep your computer up-to-date with anti-virus and firewall software and set them to automatically update;
  • set strong passwords (or even better, a passphrase) and update them regularly;
  • do not store your access details or password on or near your computer;
  • look for “https://” at the beginning of the address bar and a locked padlock in the browser to indicate the web pages are secure;
  • always log out of the internet banking menu when you finish and close the browser; and
  • beware of any windows that ‘pop-up’ during an internet banking session and be suspicious if they direct you to another site which requests your customer identification or password.

If at any time you want advice or guidance on keeping safe online, reach out, we’re here to help! Call 0468 988 438 to talk with us, or email info@conqueredit.com.au.

Multi-Factor Authentication

You may have heard about Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), or 2 Factor Authentication as it is sometimes also called. It is typically a two-step process where a person must provide more than one type of proof that they are authorised before they can access an account, system or application. For example, you may be required to provide both a username/password as a first step to login, and then a second form of identification like a code sent to a mobile phone that is also registered to your account.

MFA makes it difficult for people to hack into your account, and even if they found your username/password, they would also need your linked mobile phone to get the second form of authorisation. So it really just provides another level of security for when you’re getting access to systems and applications.

Think of it like getting into your house via the Front Door. You may have both a door handle with a key lock, and a second deadbolt lock on the same door. You need one key to open the door handle lock, and a second and different key to open the deadbolt lock. If you only have one key, you can’t get access to the house! So keep both keys safe!

Where possible, it is highly recommended to turn on MFA for all your available systems and accounts (check with your provider for details and instructions), and that includes:

  • email applications (Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc)
  • Banks & Financial Institution Accounts
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Microsoft Accounts
  • Signal
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp

If you find that you need assistance or guidance with MFA, we’re here to help – just reach out at info@conqueredit.com.au or 0468 988 438.

FREE Technology Training for Over 50’s

We have three FREE short technology courses coming up in April and May for our Over 50s in the Community who may be interested in picking up some new technology skills. These are face to face, hands on classes, where participants can bring their own device (laptop/tablet), or use on of ours if they are available (dependant on numbers), or just sit in and follow along with the Presenter on-screen.

As a Network Provider in the Australian Government’s Be Connected Program, Conquered IT is able to offer FREE training to small groups across a range of Technology topics, as the training is funded under this Program. The courses are:

Course 1 – Getting Started Online 1 – Using the Internet and Online Safety. This course is on Monday 19 April and runs for an hour from 10.30-11.30 in Turner Building Room 1, Balcombe Heights Estate, cnr Jasper & Seven Hills Rd, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.

Course 2 – Getting Started Online 2 – Using Online Forms and Search Engines. This course is on Monday 26 April and runs for an hour from 10.30-11.30 in Turner Building Room 1, Balcombe Heights Estate, cnr Jasper & Seven Hills Rd, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.

Course 3 – Getting Started Online 3 – Using Email. This course is on Monday 3 May and runs for an hour from 10.30-11.30 in Turner Building Room 1, Balcombe Heights Estate, cnr Jasper & Seven Hills Rd, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.

All courses are limited to a maximum of 10 participants, and participants need to register online via https://conqueredit.com.au/services/. Further details about each course can be found when registering online. Interested participants are also more than welcome to contact me directly to register if they feel more comfortable doing that.

All Course Participants will receive a Handout Pack which includes Course Summary Notes and a Certificate of Completion.

If you have any questions, or would like to know more about the Program or Conquered IT, please do not hesitate to contact me.Spread the Word, and help our older Australians with their digital journey.

Peter O’Farrell
Director
Conquered IT
0468 988 438

Launching Conquered IT

Following 4 years of successfully providing IT training and support services, Conquered IT has officially launched. The Company is based in The Hills District of Sydney and services all areas of Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast.

Conquered IT’s core business is the provision of a wide range of Free Training courses to locals in the community that are all centred on building knowledge, understanding and awareness of available digital services and technologies.

Additionally, the business provides fee for service IT support to those same people who may further assistance with the selection, setup and ongoing maintenance of their home/office based environments.

Reach out to discuss how we may be able to work with you on your digital journey.

info@conqueredit.com.au
0468 988 438