Archive for July, 2018

Avaya Named a Leader by Gartner

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 31, 2018 by itnerd

Avaya today announced that Avaya is again positioned as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, the ninth time that the company has been in a Leader position. Companies in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant are defined as companies that “execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow.”

Avaya improved its position on both ability to execute and completeness of vision compared to the previous year’s results.

Avaya is investing significantly in its Unified Communications portfolio to provide customers the solutions they want and need to fully leverage UC, including telephony, video, mobility, messaging, meetings and team collaboration. For example, the Avaya Equinox application now streamlines collaboration across all communications channels for small businesses to large enterprise, and a new suite of handsets further integrates applications to help drive new levels of efficiencies. Customers can also deploy in leading cloud environments in addition to other Infrastructure as a Service options, with further Avaya Cloud options planned. And over the course of the next year, the company will introduce additional innovative capabilities with AI and blockchain integrations.

The 2018 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications report evaluated eight UC vendors on completeness of vision and ability to execute. Gartner then positions companies within one of four quadrants: Visionaries, Niche Players, Challengers, and Leaders. Gartner defines “Unified Communications Solutions — equipment, software and services — as offerings that facilitate the use of multiple enterprise communications methods to achieve those aims. UC solutions integrate communications channels (media), networks and systems, as well as IT business applications, and, in some cases, consumer applications and devices.” Gartner divides UC into six broad communication product areas: Telephony, Meeting Solutions, Messaging, Presence and Instance Messaging (IM), Clients, and Communications-Enabled Business Processes.

In May, Avaya was positioned as a Leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, marking the 17th time that Avaya has been in a Leader position.


Ninety7 Announces Distribution Expansion Into Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 31, 2018 by itnerd

With the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home being used by more and more households around the world, Canadians will now have the opportunity to upgrade their “smart assistant” devices with cordless portability and enhanced features. Chicago-based lifestyle technology company Ninety7 today announced that their best-selling portable battery base accessories VAUX and DOX for Amazon Echo Dot, and LOFT for Google Home, are now available in Canada through London Drugs and Rogers.

Both London Drugs and Rogers carry LOFT in stores, while London Drugs carries all three Ninety7 products, VAUX, DOX and LOFT, on their website.  VAUX retails for $64.99, LOFT for $59.99 and DOX for $39.99.

The critically-acclaimed and fan favorite, VAUX is the first battery-powered speaker designed specifically to house the Amazon Echo Dot, providing six hours of unplugged use and enhanced audio quality for consumers to enjoy Alexa anywhere in the home environment. VAUX features an easy plug-and-play set-up, users simply pop their Dot into the top of the Vaux and plug in the internal connectors. VAUX comes in two colors, Carbon and Ash.

The DOX for Amazon Echo Dot features a powerful lithium-ion rechargeable battery that provides up to 10 hours of unplugged use.  The Dot nests securely into DOX, giving cord-free mobility at home or on the go.  Four LED lights on the front of DOX indicate how much power remains before needing another charge; and in order to recharge, the user simply places the DOX on its accompanying charging base for convenient ease of use.  Also, similar to the VAUX, DOX is available in both an imported, anti-stain fabric from Austria, in Carbon and Ash.

LOFT for Google Home is a portable battery base allowing users to take their Google assistant anywhere in the home. With up to eight hours of battery life, LOFT allows users to have a new level of flexibility when using Google Home. LOFT’s base seamlessly connects to Google Home via magnets and is designed with a premium metal finish to complete a stylish look. LOFT comes in Carbon Black, Snow White and Copper.

Our 2018 Vacation – Part 2: Day 1 In Gananoque

Posted in Commentary on July 31, 2018 by itnerd

After the Gran Fondo in Ottawa, some dinner and a good nights sleep, we checked out of the hotel and started the two hour drive to Gananoque Ontario. The reason why we were going here was that my wife has always wanted to see the 1000 Islands. I obliged as long as we got a good bike ride in to help to prepare her for the GTA Epic Tour 80KM event in September. Thus when she agreed I let her make all the arrangements, and I drove to the place that she had booked. Which was a bed and breakfast called Seaway Manor.


Now call me spoiled, but I think in my entire life I have ever stayed in two bed and breakfasts. I prefer hotels. Maybe because you’re more anonymous in them. Or I am just used to them because of all the business travel that I do. I should also note that one of those times that my wife and I stayed in a bed and breakfast was a super religious family who had a huge problem with us staying in the same room as we were only dating at the time. That really turned me off of staying in a bed and breakfasts.

One thing that made me go along with staying at this one was the fact that we had really expensive bikes with sometimes is an issue. Which is why I always ask hotels if they’re ok with bikes in the rooms. Some aren’t and I would like to find that out up front before showing up and finding out the hard way when I arrive. Then being left to scramble for accommodations that are fine with bikes. Now when we arrived the owners of Seaway Manor really went above and beyond to make us feel at home. For example they gave us a dedicated parking spot next to their garage. But on top of that, the entire properly uses smart locks like this one that have a four digit code to allow you entry.


In advance to our arrival, they programmed the locks to give us access to the garage to store our bikes in and to our room. They did also give us the option to carry the bikes up to the second floor room that we were staying in. But after getting assurances about the security of the garage, and seeing that the room was a bit snug, we went with the garage and covered the bikes up with a tarp. Though during our stay here we did check in on them from time to time.

So after getting settled and setting up shop, we spent some time just lounging around and watching the 15th stage of the Tour De France, we went out to dinner. On the advice of some of my wife’s friends, we drove into Kingston Ontario which was less than 30 minutes away and ended up here:


Dianne’s Fish Shack & Steakhouse was a very busy place the night that we went. But it was well worth it as the food was great, and for me, the beer sampler was outstanding. You got to choose four beers and the samples sizes were substantial. After dinner we went across the street to Mio Gelato for some dessert.


Then my wife and I walked around downtown Kingston for about 90 minutes.


Seeing as there’s a Toronto Sign, and in part one of this trip we saw an Ottawa sign, I guess Kingston had to get its own sign where you take the place of the “I” in Kingston.


Behind the Kingston sign is a old Canadian Pacific locomotive from the days where a railway ran from the city to the north.

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There are a pair of Shoal towers by the waterfront. One across from the other. They were used as defensive points for the city during the 1800’s.


Here’s a shot of City Hall.


And here’s a shot of the Prince George Hotel.


Finally, you can see Royal Military college from the downtown.

There’s a lot of history in Kingston and you could likely spend days exploring that city by itself. The only tip that I would provide is parking is at a premium during the summer and especially on weekends. Thus it might take you an effort to find parking. It took us 45 minutes of effort in our case. But once we got past that, we had a great evening.

Next up on our list is a boat cruise of the Thousand Islands including a visit to a castle. And this trip requires passports. Find out why tomorrow.


Avaya Wins Gold for Business Intelligence and Analytics

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 30, 2018 by itnerd

Avaya today announced that Network Products Guide, one of the industry’s leading technology research and advisory guides, has named Avaya a Gold winner for Business Intelligence and Analytics in the 13th Annual 2018 IT World Awards. These industry and peer recognitions from Network Products Guide are premier information technology awards honoring achievements and recognition across every facet of the IT industry.

The Avaya Happiness Index on Blockchain enables organizations to dynamically manage the customer journey to achieve greater satisfaction. Developed in partnership with Avanza Innovations, this unique solution securely collects and automatically analyzes customer interaction data from multiple sources across all channels in real time, harnessing innovative technologies in the areas of blockchain, artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics to transform customer experience.

The blockchain infrastructure securely collects and shares anonymous customer interaction data from a network of peers, while the real-time automated analysis of speech and text (chat, IM, email and SMS) interactions instantly identifies behaviors and trends, accelerating an organization’s ability to anticipate requirements and proactively respond to customer demands.

An annual achievements and recognition awards program with active participation from a broad spectrum of industry voices, the annual IT World Awards recognition program encompasses the world’s best in organizational performance, products and services, hot technologies, executives and management teams, successful deployments, product management and engineering, customer satisfaction, and public relations in every area of information technology.

More than 80 judges from a broad spectrum of industry voices from around the world participated and their average scores determined the 2018 award winners. Winners will be honored in San Francisco on Monday, July 30, 2018 during the annual SVUS Red Carpet Awards Ceremony Dinner in San Francisco attended by the finalists, winners, judges and industry peers.


Our 2018 Vacation – Part 1: Ottawa

Posted in Commentary on July 30, 2018 by itnerd

After our epic 2 week vacation driving to Newfoundland and back, my wife and I decided to do something different. But still within Canada as no offense to the Americans who are reading this, but your country isn’t exactly all that welcoming at the moment. Thus we’ll avoid going there until things change. My wife has been working on her cycling this year as we both belong to Velocity Cycling Club in Toronto, which led her to wanting to do a Gran Fondo which is basically a really large group ride in an highly organized environment. Now her target was going to be the PWC Epic Tour 80K event that I have done for a few years now. But I wanted to get her into something that would be a bit easier and with less people first. That way she could get used to a mass start cycling event without having 3000 people around her at the time. That led us to choose the Gran Fondo Ottawa as it has a 65KM distance that would be within her abilities, and it will have way less people which wouldn’t intimidate her. Plus the route only had about 1000 feet of climbing so that’s another thing that wouldn’t intimidate her. So we packed up our bikes in the Hyundai Tucson and made the five hour drive from Toronto to Ottawa. The route that Apple Maps took us on led us along the 401 and then on Highway 7 which was great because the latter was far more scenic.

Now I had made arrangements to stay at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata which is a suburb of Ottawa. Note that unless otherwise stated, all photos are taken with my iPhone 7 Plus:


Here’s the upside of staying here. It is the official event hotel for the Gran Fondo Ottawa. Thus we would be able to get a bit of a discount, there would be no arguments about keeping really expensive bikes in our rooms, and it was only a 1.4 KM ride to the start/finish area. Here’s the downside, It was way far away from downtown Ottawa by car or transit, More on that later.

Our room was a corner suite overlooking a golf course:


That shot was taken from the balcony which had these wooden chairs:


The room itself was spacious and came with a couple of neat pieces of tech:


Next to the bed was this EZO Power charging station. It has 4 USB ports and it acts as a cradle for your phone on top of having a couple of AC outlets. That was a very nice touch. So too was this:


The clock radio had a 3.5mm jack on it so you can plug your phone into it and play your tunes. Which is great as long as your phone has a 3.5mm jack. My iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t so I couldn’t leverage that. But it is way better than hotels who still think the Apple 30 pin connector is the height of technology. I should also mention that the WiFi is easy to join and very very quick.

In the underground parking lot, I spotted this:


The hotel has four electric car charging stations which you can use for a fee. The night we checked in the entire Tesla lineup was there. The Model S on the left, the Mode 3 in the middle, and the Model X on the right.

We arrived a day and a half early for the Gran Fondo. So the plan was to unpack, relax, get some sleep and go into Ottawa and see the Royal Canadian Mint as well as walk around the downtown for a bit. Now while the hotel does have great places to eat, and we did leverage that to go to breakfast, we decided to eat out. Since we were carbo loading for the Gran Fondo, we decided to go to Italian places that night and the following night. The first place we went to was Pocco Pazzo which was really close to the hotel. In short the wait times were short, the food was good and so were the prices and the service. Plus I had this:


This is a Big Rig Black IPA (India Pale Ale) which seems like a bit of an oxymoron to me. But whatever, it tasted great.

After a good night’s sleep and some breakfast, we decided head into Ottawa via public transit to go to the Royal Canadian Mint. Now we took the local transit service which is OC Transpo and it took us 90 minutes and two buses to get there. That didn’t factor in the almost 3 KM or walking at the start and finish of the bus trip. What made that easy for us  was that OC Transpo is one of a number of transit services that use the Presto Card which is best described as a contactless payment that works similar to the Oyster cards in London UK that allows you to pay for transit. We both have Presto Cards as this system is being rolled out (very badly) in Toronto as we speak. Apple Maps was able to navigate us from start to finish. But we found that we would have to coax the best routes out of it. For example, Apple Maps directed us to take a bus to a bus terminal and catch another one which would take us to our destination. Except that we missed it by a minute or two which meant we would have to wait 20 minutes for the next bus. Apple Maps at that point couldn’t figure that out and offer up an alternative. So we ended the navigation session and restarted it and it produced a route from our location that had us get on another bus that was leaving in five minutes and it got us there several minutes faster than our original route. That was strange, and it would get stranger later on in the day.

90 minutes or so later we were in Downtown Ottawa:


That’s the Rideau Canal.


Here’s a shot of the downtown core:


On our way to the Royal Canadian Mint we came across this Ottawa sign near Byward Market. I guess that because Toronto has made news for the Toronto Sign, I guess Ottawa has to have one too.


Along the way we passed the National Gallery.


And here is the Royal Canadian Mint. There’s actually two of them. All Canadian currency is made at the one in Winnipeg. Leaving this one which was the original one to make collector and investment coins. You can take a tour of the place and doing so is cheap at $6 CDN a person. Now if you’re expecting me to show you inside shots of the Royal Canadian Mint, you’re about to be disappointed. Cameras (and smartphones) are not permitted to be used inside the mint as they have a lot of proprietary hardware in there that they don’t want the wrong eyes to see. And apparently if you try anything foolish, it’s a one way trip to jail. The tour takes 45 minutes and is really informative. There’s also a gift shop where you can pick up collector coins.

After the tour of the mint we went to Starbucks for some refreshments, and then after some walking through the downtown, we went to a place called Scone Witch which my wife insisted that we had to visit as it has scones to die for. I’ll take her word for it as I didn’t have any. But based on the fact that she wolfed her scone down in short order, it must have been good. Along the way, I managed to get a shot at Parliament Hill:


Now we’ve both toured the place in the past so we didn’t stop there, but it’s a must see if you visit Ottawa.

Now here’s where we had an epic Apple Maps #Fail. We plotted a return trip to the hotel using my wife’s iPhone 6 because mine was down to 20% battery life which was weird. But I accounted for that due to the Apple Maps usage to get us downtown. In any case, I made a mental note to bring a battery pack with us along with a cable the next time we did any sightseeing. Apple Maps told us to walk to a bus stop and wait for a #63 bus which was supposed to arrive at 3:07 PM.

Except it never came.

We found that to be weird. So we ended the navigation session on her phone and re did it. And it still insisted on us waiting for the #63 bus even though the time for it to arrive was in the past. So I took out my iPhone 7 Plus and did a navigation session with that and it offered up the #64 bus which arrived on time and took us to within 800 meters of our hotel. That was strange. But what was even stranger is that no matter what we did, we could not get my wife’s iPhone 6 to consider any other route options other than the #63 bus. Even a reboot wouldn’t do anything. It makes no sense why two people with two iPhones standing in the same location would not be able to generate similar directions. I have no logical explanation for that.

Fortunately, dinner was more straightforward as we went here to load up on carbs as the Gran Fondo was the next day:


The mob like theme of Tony Capone’s starts with the words “we feed the mob” and continues inside the restaurant. It’s a bit dark and looks like something out of The Godfather. Again, the pricing is good and so is the food. One thing that stood out is a slice of chocolate cake that my wife and I split. It was home made and incredible.

That night we went back to the hotel to check over the bikes to ensure they were good to go, and to pin our race numbers on the back of our Velocity Cycling Club jerseys:


I got race number 443 which gave me a bit of a chuckle as from a computer networking perspective, secure communication takes place over port 443. My wife however got race number 444 which in Cantonese culture is bad luck because the number 4 sounds like the word death. To combat that, I did an old bike racers trick which is that if you get the number 13 in a race you wear it upside down to ward off any bad luck. I did the same thing with her number to make her feel better.

I also had to attach my timing sensor to my helmet:


The start/finish line had overhead sensors about 10 feet in the air. When you start, you ride underneath them and the sensors pick up who you are from this unsightly piece of hardware. Ditto for when you finish. Then we went to sleep.

Now we have the big event which is the Ottawa Gran Fondo. After getting up at 7 to do the final check of the bikes as well as get some breakfast, we made our way over the start line. Each of us had two water bottles. One with regular water, and one with a Hammer Nutrition electrolyte replacement mixed with water. We were using that because on a 30 degree celsius day, you want to make sure that you don’t cramp or dehydrate. We were also each carrying an energy bar from Skratch and some energy chews from the same company. The logic is that your muscles need energy and if you’re constantly eating, you won’t run out of energy or “bonk” as they say.

Then we lined up for the start of the 65K. Here’s a shot of what the start line looked like:


You can see the overhead sensors at the actual start line as well as the couple hundred of people in front of us. The organizers divided us into two groups. The fast group (35 KM/H or faster) and the slow group. We took the slow group. Now I can hang with the 35 KM/H group but I didn’t want to blow the doors off my wife by putting her in amongst people who were riding a race pace. Though about 6 KM after the start which took us out of Kanata onto some country roads, we figured out that maybe we should have started with the fast group as we broke away from the slow group and started to catch those who had been dropped from the fast group. That encouraged her to push herself a bit harder and by the time we made it to the first of three aid stations, we were doing a good pace. We mostly kept that pace up to the second aid station. Though now the distance was starting to set in for my wife as I was easily riding away from her and she was having trouble pacesetting. Especially on the hills which for the most part were under 3% gradient. By the time we got to the third aid station we were dealing with head and cross winds. Now I very used to dealing with those and I can keep a speed of 30 KM/H or higher in those conditions. But for my wife it was a problem as she’s still learning how to cope with those conditions. That led to me dropping her and then having to wait for her on several occasions. The sprint to the finish over the last 17KM had a hill that was 5% which was a shock to the legs after riding on hills that were 3% or less over the last couple of hours. I had no issues with the hill in question as I regularly ride steeper hills than that. My wife to her credit managed to ride her way to the top but I could tell she didn’t enjoy the experience. A lot of rolling hills, and one redneck pickup truck driver who was clearly not thrilled with all the cyclists on the rode who told us to do something that I can’t repeat here, we were at the finish. Though I have to admit that in the last kilometer I dropped my wife and hammered the pedals to get across the finish line as fast as I could.

Here’s what fitness app Strava said I did:

Ride 1

Then I waited for my wife to finish. Which she did a couple of minutes later. I have to admit that though she had to overcome some adversity along the way in the form of winds, she did pretty well for her first Gran Fondo. Thus she earned the massage that she got from a local massage company that was set up at the finish, as well as lunch that was pretty good. And it included a glass of beer from Clock Tower Brew Pub. Because everything is better with beer.

A shower and some rest (For my wife who was exhausted. I however was perfectly fine), we went out for dinner. One of the things that I had to do to get her to come and do this Gran Fondo is to agree to go out to a place called Das Lokal. According to her, it’s a must do for foodies. I am not a foodie so I am simply humoring her. In addition my plan was to sample the extensive beer selection made up of a variety of German beers and a couple of local ones as well. For those of you who are foodies, here’s what we had:


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Well, I must admit that the food was good and so was the beer. As far as my wife was concerned, it was totally worth the trip into downtown Ottawa.

Our next stop is Gananoque Ontario which is the gateway to the 1000 Islands. We’ll be there for a week before heading home. Tune in tomorrow to see what we’ll be up to.

Infographic: Is Online Shopping Still Not The Mainstream Culture?

Posted in Commentary on July 28, 2018 by itnerd

Have you ever been curious about how well the big brand stores are doing online? Do their ecommerce platforms rake in as much cash as their brick and mortar stores? You would think that as more and more people are spending so much time online that ecommerce would be booming.

As you will see by the information put together by, you would only be partially right. Red Brain studied the top eleven American big brand stores and compared their performances online and offline. The resulting infographic is quite interesting.

Take Walmart, for example. Its online sales seem pretty good for 2017 at $15.316 billion. But, compare that to the $461.9 billion raked in by its brick and mortar stores and it really is just a drop in the ocean.

It is a pattern that we see repeated throughout the list and it is quite interesting. While shopping online is clearly convenient, it still is not prevalent enough to be considered a mainstay for clients of these companies.

This makes a lot of sense for some products. You wouldn’t really want to buy a fresh product online if it could be avoided. And, with clothing, it is nice to be able to see what it looks like on you before committing to buying it.

But, the gap does seem pretty high. There are plenty of generic items that don’t require much forethought. Like the razor blades that you have to buy every month anyway, for example. You would think that the online sales would be closer to the normal sales.

Perhaps we can chalk up a lot to habit or maybe being able to get the things that we want immediately. Who knows, maybe there is even a big element of impulsive spending. After all, it is easy to impulsive buy online as well, but you don’t have to literally walk down temptation alley to get what you went online for.

Whatever the reason, the gaps are surprising. Why not have a look for yourself?


BEWARE! That Extortion Phishing Scam That I Told You About Has Just Been Amped Up

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 27, 2018 by itnerd

A few months ago I told you about a scam the takes advantage of you if you have been surfing for porn. It leverages the fact that your email address might have been part of data breach in the past to try and get you to send a few hundred dollars to a bitcoin wallet. This is called extortion phishing. Well, I have been investigating a new version of this scam that has recently started to make the rounds. Unlike the last one, potential victims get more specific and the dollar value is higher. Here’s an example of what potential victims get:

I know <Password Deleted> one of your passphrase. Lets get right to purpose. Nobody has compensated me to check about you. You may not know me and you’re most likely wondering why you are getting this e-mail?

Well, I placed a software on the X videos (pornographic material) web-site and guess what, you visited this site to have fun (you know what I mean). When you were viewing video clips, your browser started out working as a Remote control Desktop with a key logger which provided me with access to your screen and also cam. after that, my software program obtained all your contacts from your Messenger, social networks, as well as e-mail . After that I created a double-screen video. First part displays the video you were watching (you’ve got a nice taste ; )), and next part displays the recording of your web cam, & its you.

You do have two alternatives. Lets analyze these possibilities in details:

Very first choice is to skip this email message. As a result, I will send out your very own video to all your your contacts and also think regarding the shame that you receive. And as a consequence if you are in a romance, just how this will affect?

In the second place solution would be to compensate me $7000. We are going to describe it as a donation. As a consequence, I most certainly will promptly erase your video. You can carry on your way of life like this never happened and you will never hear back again from me.

You’ll make the payment through Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google search engine).

BTC Address: <Bitcoin address deleted>
[CASE-sensitive copy & paste it]

Should you are thinking of going to the authorities, good, this email message can not be traced back to me. I have covered my actions. I am also not trying to ask you for money a lot, I want to be paid for. You have one day to pay. I’ve a special pixel in this mail, and now I know that you have read through this mail. If I don’t get the BitCoins, I definitely will send your video recording to all of your contacts including friends and family, colleagues, and so on. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I will destroy the recording immediately. This is the non:negotiable offer, and thus do not waste my personal time & yours by responding to this email. If you want to have proof, reply with Yea then I will send out your video recording to your 7 friends.

Now let’s dissect this message. The fact that the scammer has the victim’s password is likely due to the fact that the victim has been a victim of a data leak which included the victim’s password along with their email address. Both are now being used to give the message that the scammer sends some degree of validity. But in reality, they don’t know anything more than the email address and password. The second thing that you should note is that the scammer claims to have covered his tracks and you should not respond to this message. but if you want proof you should respond to this message and the scammer will send a video to seven of your friends. That makes no sense. Now just for fun, I ran a check on the bitcoin address and it had no transactions. Now the person who got the above email didn’t pay up and to nobody’s surprise, no videos were emailed out.

In short, this is a complete scam. So how do you avoid being scammed? Here’s a list of things that you can do.

  1. If you have received an email like the one above. Remember that this is likely a scam. But if you want to be sure you can call in a professional to check your computer over to make sure that there’s nothing lurking on it. There likely won’t be but you can never be too careful.
  2. Under no circumstances should you pay up. The main reasons are that not only does it make the scumbags behind this scam want to keep doing it, but because many BitCoin exchanges or ATMs do not require you to verify your identity. Thus there’s no way for the scammer to tie you to the money that they could get from you. Which means that they have no way to delete the data that they allegedly collected if you pay them. Which means that they’re lying about having data on you.
  3. You should check to see if your email address has been part of a data breach that would be the source of this email. Take a visit to and type your email address into it. You’ll likely find that it has been and your email and password have been compromised and are floating around the Internet. You should discontinue the use of that password immediately and change it. In fact, you should use different passwords for your online services that is made up of a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
  4. If you are the least bit paranoid of someone recording you through your webcam, cover it with a piece of tape or a cover when not in use. Or you can disable it entirely. Ditto for the microphone. You should also have up to date antivirus as well.

The bottom line is this. These scumbags want you to be the 1% of people who fall for something like this. Don’t be a victim. Don’t respond. Don’t pay them. Just ignore them. They are scumbags and don’t deserve your attention or more importantly your money.