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Does your cell phone control your life?

cell-phoneTweets, texts, posts, blogs, status update, newsfeed, vlog, snap chat, vine. . . a new set of vocabulary that runs our lives.

20 years ago when your phone rang, you had to be home to answer it. Today our phones travel with us, and we are so dependent on them that we check them every six-and-a-half minutes. It’s the first thing we do in the morning, and it’s the last thing we do at night.

Phones are not just used for calling anymore. We check email, text, socialize, bank, keep time, shop, take photos, surf the web, listen to music, game, run our businesses, get directions, read, etc., etc. on our phones. A person checks their smartphones an average of 150 times during a 16 hour day

Technology is beginning to merge with our humanistic lives. We are living 2 lives. Your real life and your tech life. Technology has created a new type of relationship. A “behind the screen” relationship. It’s like virtual reality. You interact with a person that you could reach out and call or visit with, but you choose to socialize on your terms.

Social networking has given us a new kind of freedom, but you basically give up your right to privacy by interacting on social networking. On Facebook or Snap Chat people capture, do, and say things that they normally wouldn’t say or do in person. Communication becomes a little foggy, people become a little bold behind the screen, and many times reality doesn’t seem real anymore until you pay for the consequence later!

We are connected all the time.

Does your Device control your life, or do you use your Device to enhance your life?

Could you turn off your phone for a day? How much does your phone define who you are?

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Cyber Security Awareness Tips

Cyber Security

During the month of October, the government is promoting information about cyber threats and offers tips and best practices concerning how to stay safe online.

Here are 12 Ways To Stay Safe Online:

1. Be a responsible cyber citizen. If you use the Internet, you’re a citizen of a global community-a cyber citizen. Just like being a citizen of your local community, being a cyber citizen has responsibilities. Use the Internet to share knowledge that makes people’s lives better. Keep safe, use good manners and respect the laws.

2. Use anti-virus software. A computer virus is a program that can invade your computer and damage or destroy information. Anti-virus software is designed to protect you and your computer against known viruses. But with new viruses emerging daily, anti-virus programs need to be updated regularly. Check with the web site of your anti-virus software company to see some sample descriptions of viruses and to get regular updates for your software.

3. Do not open email from unknown sources or particularly from someone you know that has a strange email message, or a lonely link! Delete email from unknown sources. Watch out for files attached to e-mails, particularly those with an “exe” extension-even if people you know sent them to you. Some files transport and distribute viruses and other programs that can permanently destroy files and damage computers and Web sites. Do not forward e-mail if you are not completely sure that any attached files are safe.

4. Use hard-to-guess passwords and keep them private.Do not write passwords down on small pieces of paper taped to your computer. You would be surprised how many people are sloppy about keeping their passwords private. Passwords that are easy to-guess are a bad choice. In other words, if your name is “Dan” do not make your password “Dan.” Change your passwords regularly and don’t give your passwords to anyone! Tell your family that combinations of letters, numbers and symbols are harder to crack than just words. I use Lastpass. It’s a free download. It keeps track of all my passwords, and I have access to it on all of my devices. It can even generate passwords for you and automatically change them regularly.

5. Protect computers with firewalls.Install firewalls for your family, it is not difficult. A firewall helps prevent hackers from breaking into your computer or the computers that belong to your family. Firewalls help prevent thieves from stealing and using private information including your phone number and credit card numbers, which may be stored on a family computer.

6. Do not share access to your computers with strangers. Learn about file sharing risks. Your computer operating system may allow other computers on a network, including the Internet, to access the hard-drive of your computer in order to “share files”. This ability to share files can be used to infect your computer with a virus or look at the files on your computer if you do not pay close attention. Teenagers have the ability to download alot of junk that could risk the network system in your household. Check your operating system and other program help files to learn how to disable file sharing.  Do not share access to your computer with strangers!

7. Disconnect from the Internet when not in use. The Internet is a two-way road. You get information and also send information. Turning off the Internet makes sure that someone else on the Internet can’t enter your computer and cause harm. Disconnecting your computer from the Internet when you are not online lessens the chance that someone will be able to access your computer.

8. Back-up your computer regularly. Help your family back up all household computers. I use Cabonite.com. It’s $55 per year and it backs up my computer everyday automatically as well as my phone and iPad! So worth it!

9. Regularly download security protection update “patches”. Security flaws are regularly found in operating systems and application software. Companies that make software release quick fixes called “patches” that you should install to correct the latest software flaw. Microsoft also offers regular security updates that need to be updated on a regular basis. Set you computer to automatically update. Get Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s a free security software that uses very little resources to keep your computer safe from viruses and malware.

10. Never give out any personal information online like passwords, or social security numbers, etc. A spam message posing as your bank or email provider may alert you that there is a problem with your account and ask you for your account information. DON’T DO IT!!!  Your bank or email provider would never ask you for that information over the internet.

11. Never use public Wi-fi (like Starbucks, etc.) to do your personal banking, etc. These public Wi-Fi places do not have firewalls, nor is the information encrypted. Someone could easily get your passwords, and steal your identity. Even sending email is not safe (Gmail can be encrypted). Make sure you use 3G when engaging in personal business at places that offer free Wi-Fi

12. Help your family to check computer security on a regular basis. Teach your children these tips!!! Children’s identity is being stolen and their credit is ruined before they even reach legal age!  Evaluate computer security at least twice a year. To help remember, do it when you change the clocks for daylight-savings time! Check for all of the items listed previously.

(www.staysafeonline.com)

An Apple a day

Photo Sep 20, 11 46 26 PMI guess I consider myself somewhat of a “Techie.” My business as a Graphic Designer keeps me engrossed in computers, software, and electronic devices.

This month ended up being a “Techie” month. I decided to upgrade my desktop computer from Windows XP, to Windows 7 (too many bad reviews with Windows 8). Windows XP will be toast by April 2014, and many manufacturers are already not supporting XP. If you don’t upgrade, your computer becomes a security risk. I also decided to upgrade my Adobe Graphic software, and add more memory to my computer. Upgrading certainly has its risks, but with a bit of help from my “Techie” husband and his Engineer, all went well.

This week was also the release of Apple’s iOS 7 and today’s iPhone 5S and 5C launch in stores. I always find it fascinating when Apple comes out with a new device operating software. It’s a little bit like Christmas in September. Apple has a way of packaging new and innovative features to its OS. While many users encountered a lot of frustrating server errors while upgrading, the numbers show that a lot of people were successful in updating. Within 48 hours of its launch on Wednesday, iOS 7 made its way onto 32 percent of the Apple (AAPL) devices in the U.S. and Canada, according to digital ad network Chitika.

I updated my iPhone 4S on Wednesday evening around 12am PST. I usually do quite a bit of research before taking the plunge. I was aware of possible battery drain issues, so I was prepared. The next day my iPhone started out at 100%, but I was loosing batter fast, even when it was shut off! I decided to let the battery completely run out until the phone shut itself off. I plugged it into its charger, and the white little apple appeared for quite some time, and then the battery icon appeared. The next day, all was normal.

All this “Techie” stuff can be quite scary to some, and as the boomer generation moves further away from the office environment, into retirement, technology gets left behind. I’m fortunate that my Graphic Design business forces me to stay current with technology on a daily basis. Here are a few apps that make my life a bit easier each day:

Carbonite.com – I use this site to back up my computer everyday. It backs up automatically. This made my computer upgrade a piece of cake. I can also access files from my computer from anywhere. There’s even an App.

Dropbox.com – I use this site to remotely share files with customers, and family members. It’s also a great way to keep large files off of your computer. I can also access this from anywhere.

Grocery IQ (App) – Now that it has a bar scanner, I scan my groceries as they run out. By the end of the week, I have a list.

Shazam (App) – A very cool App that recognizes music and media playing around you. Tap the Shazam button to instantly tag songs and purchase later.

Candy Crush (App) – Stress reliever, and very addicting game.

SnapChat (App) – This is how I now keep abreast of what my college daughter is up to. It’s a fast way to share a quick moment on iPhone. The photo is only seen for a few seconds.

DirecTV (App) – I watch TV from my iPad. I don’t think I’ve turned on the TV in my bedroom in over a year.

Quizlet (App) – A study tool for my son. Flashcards created by the community from school textbooks. He studies right from his iPad mini. He is getting good grades on test with help from Quizlet

Amazon Student (App) – I used this App to sell my kid’s school textbooks back. The barcode feature makes it so easy. When your done scanning the books you send a shipping label to your email and print it out. Shipping is FREE. I got about $100 back.

iTunes Radio – Launch with the latest iOS 7. Works just like Pandora, but you can purchase a song right from iTunes while listening. They have fewer ads, and the songs play more hits.

Amber Alert Nuisance in California

amberlogoCalifornia residents were angered last Monday night when the state’s first Amber Alert (issued for two missing children, Hannah and Ethan Anderson, and their alleged kidnapper, James Lee DiMaggio) woke them up with a 10-second-long loud screeching alert sound in the middle of the night.

The new Amber Alert is a digital version of notices on the emergency broadcast system. Since fewer people are dependent on television and radio for information, authorities are using other methods to spread life-threatening, and time-sensitive information.

The alerts are now on by default for many smart phones, and can be loud and startling. This system “relies on broadcast SMS to push notifications to smartphones for weather threats, Amber Alerts and presidential alerts. Many people posted to Twitter complaining of the nuisance, and because the alerts are not interactive, users could not tap the alert to get more information.

Amber Alerts, named in 1996 for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Tex., are issued for abductions that meet specific criteria within each state. California’s Amber Alerts can only be issued if law enforcement believes a victim(s): has been abducted, is 17 years old or younger or has a proven mental or physical disability, is in imminent danger of serious injury or death, and if information that could assist the public is available. The system tries to avoid relative or family abduction alerts.

I must say that I am actually appalled that people would complain about being informed about the well-being of another human life…..really? Have we become so self-centered, and self-involved with our cell phones, that we can’t adjust to a small 10-second alert? Sure there are improvements that need to be made, it’s only been available since December 2012. Being able to access the information, as well as better advertising about what “Amber Alert” is and how it interacts with our phones would be helpful,  but to disable the alert and have no respect for a child’s well-being because the sound woke you up, or you couldn’t access the information is astounding to me.

There is a strong consensus from past abduction cases, that Amber Alerts have been very helpful in rescuing hundreds of children (Click here to see Amber stats). Many good tips have contributed to law enforcement’s success in rescuing abducted children, and the system is only used to help in the most serious cases. I can’t imagine that this alert would happen very often. Monday’s alert was only the third Amber Alert in California in 2013, and the first two were only broadcast to phones in specific counties.

If your child were abducted or in danger, wouldn’t you want to get the word out to everyone imaginable? Have we become so intolerable that we aren’t willing to deal with a small, infrequent inconvenience to help inform the community of information that might save a child’s life? Wow, I’m utterly ashamed.

Come on California, man-up!

What type of Facebooker are you?

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Facebook is a social network service founded by Mark Zuckerberg February 2004. It is the number one social network service in the world. Here are some cool stats about Facebook:

Total number of Facebook users: 1.11 billion
Daily activity Facebook users: 665 million
Total number of Facebook likes since launch: 1.13 trillion
Average time spent per Facebook visit: 20 minutes

Facebook has had a poor history of informing its users of changes, and can be pretty cumbersome to use when it comes to protecting your privacy. I found a great site that helps you set up your account for maximum privacy and security, check it out: www.facecrooks.com

Don’t get me wrong, I “like” one thing about Facebook, it’s a great tool for keeping in touch with family and friends. One thing that makes Facebook interesting are its types of users. Here are a few Facebook characters that keep our walls interesting from day-to-day.

The Chronic Inviter. “Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Come to my event! This is the person that wants you to get involved with whatever their involved with.

The Chronic Pinterest Poster. This is someone who posts things that should be posted on Pinterest boards. Not all your friends like coin collecting.

The Peeper. The Peeping Toms of Facebook, someone who rarely updates their status or writes on your wall. But once in a while, you’ll be talking to them and they’ll mention something you posted, so you know they’re on your page, lurking in the shadows. It’s just a little creepy.

The Random poster. Someone who posts a 2 word status that no one else gets! Huh??

The “every move I make” poster. Those people who post every move they make when they wake up, until they say nighty night.

Facebook Clueless. This is someone who posts personal information on their status wall that is meant for someone specific, it should be a posted as a “message” to someone but they don’t know how to use Facebook, (LOL!!)

The Group messenger. This is probably the most annoying user in my opinion. Someone who leaves a group message to every friend in his Facebook, not realizing that every time someone responds to the message, we all get it!

The Tagger. Someone who tags you in random photos that you’re not even in, then you continue to get comments from everyone else who was tagged. Yikes!!

The Promoter. We all like to post our most treasured accomplishments, but this is someone who brags about their accomplishments almost every post. I’m thankful that I don’t have many friends like this. Those that do brag, I’m proud of!!

What type of Facebooker are you?