Apps Your Kids Should Not Download

 Apps Your Kids Should Not Download

Apps Your Kids Should Not Download

You find it great that your kids use apps on their device be it a tablet, iPod or iPad. These are Apps Your Kids Should Not Download. As a parent myself, I understand how vigilant you need to be in order to protect your kids online. These apps are not helping…. The apps I am about to mention easily tap in to the GPS on your phone and your Facebook data. So if you feel you are using theses apps anonymously…..think again!

The Apps

1. Tinder: An app that is used for hooking-up and dating. Users can rate profiles and find potential hook-ups via GPS location tracking. 450 million profiles are rated every day! The good news is, this app pulls information from user’s Facebook profiles, so it is more authenticated than other apps.
Problem: It is easy for adults and minors to find one another. Also, due to the rating system, it is often used for cyber-bullying, because a group of kids can target another kid and purposefully make his/her rating go down.

2. Snapchat: This app allows a user to send photos and videos to anyone on his/her friend list. The sender can determine how long the receiver can view the image and then the image “destructs” after the allotted time.
Problem: It is the #1 app used for sexting, mostly because people think it is the safer way to sext. However, the “snaps” can easily be recovered and the receiver can take a screen shot and share it with others. Also, a lot of images from Snapchat get posted to revenge porn sites, called “snap porn.”

3. Blendr: A flirting app used to meet new people through GPS location services. You can send messages, photos, videos, rate the hotness of other users, etc.
Problem: There are no authentication requirements, so sexual predators can contact minors, minors can meet up with adults. And again, the sexting.

4.
Kik Messenger: An instant messaging app with over 100 million users that allows users to exchange videos, pics and sketches. Users can also send YouTube videos and create memes and digital gifs.
Problem: Kids using the app for sexting and sending nude selfies through the app is common. The term “sext buddy” is being replaced with “Kik buddy.” Kids use Reddit and other forum sites to place classified ads for sex by giving out their Kik usernames. Also, Kik does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.

5. Whisper: Whisper is an anonymous confession app. It allows users to superimpose text over a picture in order to share their thoughts and feelings anonymously. However, you post anonymously, but it displays the area you are posting from. You can also search for users posting within a mile from you.
Problem: Due to the anonymity, kids are posting pics of other kids with derogatory text superimposed on the image. Also, users do not have to register to use Whisper and can use the app to communicate with other users nearby through GPS. A quick look at the app and you can see that online relationships are forming through the use of this app, but you never know the person behind the computer or phone. Sexual predators also use the app to locate kids and establish a relationship. One man in Seattle, Wash., was charged with raping a 12-year-old girl he met on this app in 2013.

6. Ask.fm: Ask.fm is one of the most popular social networking sites that is almost exclusively used by kids. It is a Q&A site that allows users to ask other users questions while remaining anonymous.
Problem: Kids will often ask repeated derogatory questions that target one person. Due to the anonymity of the badgering, it creates a virtually consequence-free form of cyber-bullying. Ask.fm has been associated with nine documented cases of suicide in the U.S. and the U.K.

7. Yik Yak: An app that allows users to post text-only “Yaks” of up to 200 characters. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking.
Problem: Users are exposed to and are contributing sexually explicit content, derogatory language and personal attacks. Although the posts are anonymous, kids start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users.

8. Poof: This app allows users to make other apps “disappear” on their phone. Kids can hide any app they don’t want you to see by opening the app and selecting other apps.
Problem: It’s obvious, right? Luckily, you can no longer purchase this app. But, if it was downloaded before it became unavailable, your child may still have it. Keep in mind that these types of apps are created and then terminated quickly, but similar ones are continuously being created. Others to look for: Hidden Apps, App Lock and Hide It Pro.

9. Omegle: This app is primarily used for video chatting. When you use Omegle, you do not identify yourself through the service. Instead, chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger.” However, you can connect Omegle to your Facebook account to find chat partners with similar interests. When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App will receive your Facebook “likes” and try to match you with a stranger with similar likes.
Problem: Sexual predators use this app to find kids to collect personal information from in order to track them down more easily in person.

10. Down: This app, which used to be called Bang With Friends, is connected to Facebook. Users can categorize their Facebook friends in one of two ways: They can indicate whether or not a friend is someone they’d like to hang with or someone they are “down” to hook-up with.

Be Proactive

What scares me is that your child is just learning about this technology that by the time you realize what you have the damage is already done. Please be as proactive as possible. As a rule, if you are letting your child download apps DO NOT give him or her their own Google Play or iTunes account. Also make sure you do not save any passwords on the device. This does not give your child “carte blanche” in downloading apps.

The above suggestions are for young children. If you have adolescences you will have to give them a little more space, however, you will need to monitor their account to make sure they are not using apps like those mentioned above. I personally feel they are inappropriate for adults, so children definitely should not be using them. Their safety so important!

Thanks for this article for the info!

 

Why You Are Burning Through Your Internet Bandwidth

Why You Are Burning Through Your Home Internet Bandwidth

Why You Are Burning Through Your Internet Bandwidth

You may ask yourself…Why am I Burning Through My Internet Bandwidth? I can cite at least one reason why you are burning through your Internet bandwidth…..Facebook.

Those who have fast wired Internet in their home with high bandwidth capacity may not find this as a concern but those (like me) who live in the country, our high speed Internet choices are limited, unfortunately, so is the bandwidth :)

You may have already turned off this feature on your mobile device but it can also be turned off when using your desktop browser. It is video streaming. I like to only stream a video in my home feed when I click on it. I don’t need it to automatically play while I scroll through.

Disabling Video Streaming in Facebook (Desktop Browser)

While on your Facebook homepage, click on the down arrow beside the privacy icon and then choose settings:

While on the settings page, Click on video and then change the settings on the right pane to what is shown below:

Video Quality

You can choose how you want the video to stream. If you choose “default”. It will stream in the highest quality that is available. HD video will eat your bandwidth up faster then SD.

Auto-Play Videos

This is what a lot of Facebook users find annoying. With this setting set to “Off”, any video in your feed will not auto play. If you tend to scroll through your feed slowly it stops a video from auto playing that you are not even watching, ultimately saving your bandwidth.

I hope these tips help you limit your bandwidth usage. There are other ways in which you can limit your bandwidth usage but Facebook is definitely an important one. Contact Me if you have any questions.

Cheers,

Dan

 

 

 

What is Tor?

What is Tor?

You are probably asking yourself what is Tor? You may be too young to remember (I’m not) but the Internet used to be a place where you could search for information virtually anonymously. Over the years it became a very popular vehicle for business, commerce, social and unfortunately criminal behavior. All reasons to instill some sort of tracking on the Internet. As you know when you browse (either through Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc), you are leaving little bits about your opinions and preferences whether it be purchasing, vacationing, food, political or whatever. Maybe you don’t want to share so much for whatever reason. This is where Tor comes in.

What Does Tor Stand For?

Tor stands for “The Onion Router”. It uses the term “Onion” because it tries to use many levels of security to hide your Identity from the Internet. All traffic that goes through the Tor browser is sent through a network of over 5000 relays set up by volunteers. It is pretty interesting but as an everyday Internet user, would you be Interested enough to download and use it?

Uses for Tor

Now if you really have nothing to hide when surfing the Internet, I guess you wouldn’t consider Tor. I think it is a bit annoying when I go shopping online and immediately after I buy something I am bombarded with Google Ads trying to sell me what I already bought…..I know clearing my cookies would remedy most of that but come on… :p I might use Tor for that.

I guess people who like to surf and not have to worry about using private browsing or always clearing their browser history and cookies every time they surf might consider Tor. However, there is a disclaimer to Tor. You need to change your browser habits to use Tor effectively. They give several suggestions here on how to use the Tor browser.

Read the Wikipedia article for more on Tor. I might use it for online shopping so my wife can’t find out what I bought her for her birthday or Christmas!!

Cheers!

Dan

Outlook Google Calendar Sync

Outlook Google Calendar Sync

If you haven’t tried Outlook Google Calendar Sync when using Gmail with Outlook, you need to! If you have purchase Google Apps for business, read this article. However, a lot of small business owners have a Gmail account that is free but also use Outlook. This is the product for you. It is free!

All you need to do is two things:

Enable IMAP in Gmail and then add the Gmail account to Outlook

I have started to use Outlook 2013 and it handles IMAP mail better than any version of Outlook before it! That takes care of the mail portion of your Gmail. Now you need to get Contacts and Calendars working…..

Download and install Outlook Google Calendar Sync

Go to the Outlook Google Calendar Sync webpage ,download and install the software. Once installed it you will need to open the configuration page and add you Google account by your email address. You will have to login to your Gmail account through your web browser and grant authorization to the program to have access to your account.:

You can check all the options you would like. I wanted the program to run at start up, auto sync and do it every 15 minutes. The first time I synced, I used the “Google to Outlook Option” since everything was in Google and I didn’t need to check for conflicts in Outlook since it was a new profile. After that I uncheck that option. At that point I wanted a two-way sync.

What it is essentially doing is bringing over your Google Contacts and Calendar to your local Outlook data file. If you make changes in Outlook, it will sync them with Google and vice versa. It is quite handy, especially if you can’t use Thunderbird for whatever reason. I used Thunderbird for years and to get this functionality I had to use three different plugins plus set up an IMAP account. However, now my work requires me to use Outlook so this is just as good :). Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!!

Cheers,

Dan

Why am I not listed on Google?

Why I am Not Listed on Google

Why am I not listed on Google? This is a question I even ask myself! A lot of my clients ask this question too. There are 7 ways that will help increase your exposure on Google. It is not a silver bullet but it will definitely help.

1. Make sure your web pages have a really good <meta description>

If you used a web designer to help you with your web page this is probably already done. Unfortunately <key words> are not used anymore. So don’t think if you have a website about “cats” and you put this in as a keyword, you will be on top of Google’s rankings. Google has changed how they rank sites several times over the years and it is becoming more and more complicated to rank. However if you have a really good meta description it will help. If you look at the HTML markup in each of your web pages around the top you will see what I mean. Try to make the description of what you website is about and the location (if applicable) as descriptive as possible. Search Engines (who am I kidding….Google) will index it better.

2. Be Social

Make sure that whatever social media you use points back to your website. This will help get it indexed better.

3. Use Google services

Use Google for business . You will need to create a Google account and have a Google plus business page. It seems like a lot of work but Google loves Google! So you can bet it will get indexed!! Make sure you put as much information as you can (website, phone number, address, etc…)

4. List in Business Directories

Take advantage of directories such as Yelp, ylm and others. You can list things like your company’s address and phone number, website, social media feeds and the like. This will give you more of what I call “index cred” :)

5. Keep Content Fresh

This is hard to do if you mainly run a static site. If you are in this boat the other steps will definitely help. The updated content will get indexed relatively quickly and point back to your website. A Blog site (like this one) is a good example.

6. Tag Website Photos With Key Phrases

Google is now indexing your photos so if you Google your business name you might find some of your website photos. This should help give you a boost.

7. Use Google AdWords

The last 6 items I listed are generally free but if you are really set on showing up on Google’s rank, you might have to spend a little bit of money. Now if you sign up for Google services (like I mention in point 3), setting up a Google AdWords account will be easy to do. You can use the key word planner to help you find a popular search phrase and then use those phrases to bid on position in Google’s search ranking.

If you use these seven techniques it will definitely help your search ranking in Google. You may ask the question “Why am I not listed on Google” a little less! Google will eventually change again so this list is not exhaustive….

Cheers

 

Dan

Happy New Year….Now What?

Happy New Year....Now What?

I hear what you are saying…”Happy New Year….Now What?” A lot of times we tried to make resolutions for the new year but by February they are out the window or forgotten. So in anticipation of this, we just give up or don’t even bother to make a resolution. After all, it is easier to do nothing, right? I often find that I am in this in this boat and I am sure you do too.

What I am going to try to do this years is keep it simple. No grandiose plan that is supposed to lead to a revelation. All change starts with a single step and I think I will I will concentrate on that single step :) After that, I will resolve to make another step but no getting ahead of myself. I don’t want to lose focus!

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

 

 

Security for Webcams

Security for Webcams

You may or may not heard the news last week but a Russian hacker has posted links to several webcam feeds all over the world to exposure how lax the security is on these devices. I remember when wireless routers were becoming more and more popular I always told users to change the default password right out of the box. I jokingly said that the first thing I do when I take the device out of the box is throw away the CD that came with it (I like to manually configure things :)) The main take away here is that you need do do the same for webcams and all other network devices alike!! The manufacture gives you instructions to get you up an running as fast as possible but it is also the least secure way to do it.

Whenever I have reset a network device and I don’t know the default passwords, all I have to do is conduct a quick Google search and, voila, I have the information I need. Of course I immediately change this information once I get the device up and running.

That’s all a hacker has to do to get information to your webcam device if you haven’t changed the defaults. It is not cool considering that your webcam maybe a baby cam or a nanny cam or security cam, etc. You may have sound turned on as well so not only can they see you , they can hear you. Keeping the bad guy out is reason you got the camera in the first place!! Not changing the default security settings does just the opposite…..

Here is an article that explains it in a little more detail .

If you have any question please contact me. I would be glad to help!

 

One way to Give your Clients a Price

One way to Give Your Clients a price

 

A lot times a potential client would like me to give them a quote on services. I am am always happy to do so but the problem is they want a price right on the spot! I think in this age of the Internet everybody can get pricing on almost everything right away and that is great for a lot of things. Clothing, electronics, books, etc are just examples. Getting a website designed or having a computer network maintained and monitored , not so much. In order for someone such as myself to be able give clients a price is to meet with them and find out what there needs are:

One Size Does not fit all when giving your Clients a Price

Above I mentioned items like shoes and electronics. Yes one size can fit all when pricing theses items (pun intended) but for other items like services, you really need to access the situation before you give a price. The reason I say this is that what may be good for one client may not be good for another client. You don’t want short change a client by rambling off a price before you really understand their needs but also you don’t to short change yourself. As my Father told once me”be careful of the job you quote because you just might get it!”. It sounds funny but it really is sage advice.

Make sure the pencil is sharp and educated!

It is important to give the best possible price but it needs to be based on accurate information. Giving your clients a price based on “making it as cheap as possible” is never a good practice to get into. It is a double edged sword: 1) You really won’t be able to properly serve your clients and 2) you will never keep the lights on (aka no more business).

Always put your best foot forward! There could be a lot of reasons for why you didn’t get the job but keep moving forward because when you do land one, both parties will truly benefit!

 

 

What to get your kids for Christmas

What to get your kids for Christmas

I know it is not even Halloween yet but I know you are thinking about Christmas!! You are probably thinking “What to get the kids for Christmas?”. If you are the parent of soon to be tween or tween you actually have to think about this a little bit. They are now at the age where the electronics you buy them aren’t only toys any more but can also be used as tools for things like homework, research on projects, etc.

However the question remains: “What to get your kids for Christmas??”.

 

What to get your kids for Christmas….A thought

Since your kids are probably into playing games like Minecraft on your computer or tablet why not combine the two in either an inexpensive net book or notebook. My reasoning here is that if your kids are at an age where a computer might be used for things like research and homework, it would great to have their gaming device and school device all rolled into one.  Prices for these devices are coming down and now you can get net books / notebooks either in a conventional configuration or touch screens or detachable screens anywhere from $300-$400. If you go to Staples in the United States or Canada you can look at some of their sales. If you live in the United States or can get across the border for a few days from Canada, I bet you can take advantage of some good Black Friday sales coming up next month.

What to get your kids for Christmas….Another thought

You could also think about replacing the family computer or laptop with an all-in-one computer this year. They have also come down in price and they now have touch screens! I know Mom’s out there will hate the smudges but it is a great addition. You can get a fairly decent all-in-one starting at about $750 but I am sure there will be some sales before Christmas.

I hope this helps you with some decisions on what to get your kids for Christmas. I know this has been something I have been thinking about and I thought I would share.

Dan

9 Step Computer Install Checklist

9 Step Computer Install Checklist

Your 9 Step Computer Install Checklist :)

You should use this 9 step computer install checklist, why?….I have built a lot of systems and I mean A LOT. Large companies with IT departments have the luxury of imaging their systems. They purchase many of the same model and build an image for it that they load on to each system before they deploy it to the user. Regardless, they use a similar checklist. It ensures the computer is built, efficiently, consistently and eliminates any problems down the road because you know exactly what you have!!

Now you are probably saying, “I am a small or medium sized business owner, why would I need to do this?”. Whether you are using one or 100 computers in your business it is a good habit to get into and your computer will least likely breakdown when you need it most!! Here is the computer install checklist I use and I hope you already use something similar to this. This is a general guide that can apply to Windows, Mac and Linux:

Put it all together

There is no sense turning the computer on if it is not put together in the configuration that you will be using it in. So make sure all parts that you got with the computer (i.e. Docking Stations, Monitors, Keyboard, Mice etc. are plugged in). Peripherals like Printers, Scanners etc. are not included in this step (more on this later).

Create a user account and perform initial setup

When you turn your system on for the first time, it will want to know this like a user account (name and password), your time zone, regional settings (like keyboard settings) and whether or not you want to receive system updates and the frequency. A little tip I use is when it asks for what keyboard and region setup I need to use even though I am in Canada, I choose “US”. There are 2 things at play here 1) we represent dates many different ways and it is easier to represent dates as MM/DD/YYYY and 2)because most of the software we use is from the US anyways (it plays nicer with it).

Configure computer for the network

In the case of Windows if you set up the computer without specifying the Work group name, it will default to “WORKGROUP”. You may or may not want to keep it this way. All you have to do is go into the system’s settings and click “Advanced Settings”. It will bring up the system properties. You can click the computer name tab and then rename the work group by clicking the “change” button. You will have to reboot the computer for the change to take affect. If your computer needs to find other resources on the network (like servers and printers) it should find it easier this way. It looks nicer too when are looking for devices on the network and they are all in the same work group :p.

Update the operating system

Regardless of what operating system you are running it is always a good idea to make sure it is as up to date as possible before you deploy it. Nothing is a frustrating as not know about an issue that can be fixed by a system update and deploying the system only to find that you have to go out and fix a problem that never should have been one!

Uninstall unnecessary Programs

This to me is IMPORTANT. System makers have been getting better with this but it used to be when you got a new system, it was so full of demo ware and the performance out of the box was so slow, you thought they had shipped you a 5 year old system by mistake! If you know you are probably never going to use the software, Uninstall it! You would be surprised how much stuff loads at login that you don’t ever use……

Install and Configure Necessary Programs

Alright, we are getting somewhere! Take the programs that you do use and Install them. Configure them too. Before you know it, you  will be up and running, but first….

Install an Antivirus!

I know what you are thinking, “why didn’t you put this in the last step?”. I would have but it is really important and deserves it’s own step. Forgetting this step might get you the computer back to someone like me sooner then you like. Install an antivirus. A lot of newer systems (Windows 8) come with one pre-installed. If you don’t like it put one on you do. I posted these links in an earlier post but here they are again:

  1. AVG Free
  2. Avast
  3. Avira

Install Necessary Peripherals

OK, now you can hook up you printers, scanners or what ever else you have other than a mouse, keyboard or docking station. I suggest hooking up one at a time and verifying functionality before going on to the next one. If you have any network connected peripherals, this would be a good time to hook them up too.

Bring over data from old Machine

If you are like a lot of small to medium sized business, you may have a combination of local stored information and network stored information. I find that regardless of your situation, you will have a lot of information (Spreadsheets, Word Docs, PDF’s, etc) stored locally on the old system. Find a way to get them over to the new machine. I like to use a USB disk to to this. It is easier, You just copy all the information from the old system to the USB drive and from the USB drive to the new system. One item to note is that items like Internet bookmarks and contacts from an email program might have to be exported from the old system, copied to the USB drive, copied to the new system and then  imported into the new system’s programs.

Voila you are done! If you take the couple of hours to do this 9 step computer Install checklist, it will save you safe many, many hours of headaches down the road. As always, if you have any questions please contact me!

 

Cheers,

 

Dan