Tax Time…Ready for the SCAM…3 Things to Look For

Tax Time... Ready for the SCAM... 3 Things to Look For

Tax Time…Ready for the SCAM…3 Things to Look For

Here I explain Tax Time… Ready for the SCAM… 3 Things to Look For. You may get emails about your your Tax Refund, it’s not. It is a SCAM. Protect your self and hit “Delete”!! This frustrates me to no end. I just got another email about it today! Those who are perpetrating identity theft are capitalizing on the fact the Governments are starting to use the Internet more and more to conduct business. For example, Revenue Canada will no longer be sending cheques in the mail. This means that by next year, everyone has to e-file their tax returns. Great! The problem is people have been socially engineered to expect confirmations of some sort in our email’s, etc to verify that a transaction has taken place. So the scammers take advantage of this by sending us an email that we may or may not click on. I don’t think the you will receive email confirmation from the government. That may change with time but as of this writing, I don’t think so. :)

Things to Look For

 1. Did you even File your taxes

Are they mind readers or did the refund get processed though osmosis?? If you haven’t filed your taxes or are in the middle of it, don’t worry, the refund is not processed yet!

2. Look at the link they want you to click

In the Picture above it shows a web link to click that starts with “http://”. This is NOT a secure link Which means what ever information you inadvertently add on the next page can be easily captured. So don’t click on this link and add things on the next page like your social insurance number, etc. The ID thieves want you to do that.

3. Look for Vagueness in the message

The email might only say “johndoe@email.com , click here for your tax refund”. This vague message can be generated en mass via a computer spamming program. It really saves  a lot of time for the scammers. Trust me, if it was legitimate email (which we get for several other things on the internet), it would be a little more personal then that. Even if it was computer generated!

Please take these three things into account when you encounter this or any type if email fraud. And remember, when in doubt, HIT DELETE. You identity will thank you.

 

Cheers

Dan

Are You Ready For Mobilegeddon?

Are You Ready For Mobilegeddon?

Are You Ready For Mobilegeddon?

 

 

Chances are if you have done some major updates on your website in the last few years it is mobile friendly. However, if you have done only minor tweaks or just managed the content it probably is not. This does not bode well for your ranking on Google. Google is about to introduce some updates to it’s ranking algorithm and it will now be taking into account the “mobile friendliness” of your website. You may or may not already received an email from Google giving you a run down of how mobile friendly your web presence is. I have have received a few emails on some of the domains I manage and will be checking in to it. Most of my newer sites passed but there are few older sites I manage that will need to be tweaked. They might even have to be redesigned??  The algorithm change is to occur on April 21st, 2015.

 

Check Your Website

If Google has sent you an email regarding the mobile friendliness of your website., take a look at it and see what changes need to made. At least people won’t asking you “Are you ready for mobilegeddon?”.

If you Live in the Haldimand / Hamilton Area I can help you out. For a low cost, I can analyze your site and tell you what changes you would need to make your site more mobile friendly and even make the changes for you. However, even with a mobile friendlier site you still need to continue on your Google Ranking

 

Cheers

 

Dan

Internet Explorer is Dead?

Internet Explorer is Dead?

Internet Explorer is Dead?

 

Is Internet Explorer dead? I hear this and I started to breathe a sigh of relief…finally! IE has NOT been a browser of choice for me for many years and yet I am still forced to use it for work related tasks! The browser has been long plagued with security issues since IE 6. Security issues aside, you may remember the legal issues Microsoft got themselves into when when they decided to package IE with Windows :) They effectively demonstrated that if IE was taken out of Windows at the time, it would effectively break the operating system and render it unusable…Yikes!! I guess that is not the case now.

Windows is now working on a replacement called “Project Spartan”

This release will come with Windows 10 and is intended to be the sole browser with Windows (Even though IE will be available for backward compatibility and for enterprise users). Of course now you will just have to add this new browser to the list of browsers you will have to test to ensure your web design reners properly etc. but I guess it is all par for the course.

Please view stories here and here for more information on what to make of IE being considered “dead”. Thanks Danny for giving me a heads up on this!! :)

Cheers

Dan

Home Office Essentials – 6 Items you must have

Home Office Esseentials - 5 Items You Must Have

Home Office Essentials – 6 Items you must have

If you have to work from home, you have probably found out what technology works for you by trial and error. Me too! Whether you telecommute or run a business out of your house, your office needs to be functional and efficient. Here are the 6 items Items you must have:

1. A Decent Laptop

Unless you plan on never leaving your house to discuss business with clients, getting a desktop these days is out of the question. Mobility is key so get a good laptop and you can do both. Make sure you have at least 6 GB of RAM, 1 TB HD and run Windows 8 (soon to be 10). Touchscreen laptops are getting to be the norm so make sure you get one with that functionality too. Here is a good example of a mid-range laptop. I find that when there are times that I really need to get some work done I plug in a mouse, keyboard and a …..

2. A Second Screen

Having a second screen is a god send. I was introduced to it a few years ago and now I will never go back. Not only is it better on your eyes but it is also better for the environment (I don’t use print outs nearly as much as I use to). All laptops either have an HDMI, DVI or VGA connector you can use to plug in the second monitor and Windows picks it up immediately. Use “Extend Desktop” for the best result. A good example is when you are looking at emails, you can drag the program to one screen and use your browser on the other screen. If I ever have to use only one screen now, I feel weird :p

3. A Wireless B/W Laser Printer

I know you are probably saying “Colour Lasers are so much cheaper now” and I would say “If you do a lot of printing in colour, you can combine items 3 and 4. If you don’t, split them up. I find that I print in B/W so much more it just makes better sense. For the odd time I need to print in colour, I can use my all-in-one. Here is a good example or a great B/W Wireless Laser.

4. A Wireless Colour All-In-One

This can be a 3-in-1 (Printer, Scan, Copier) or 4-in-1 (Fax,Printer,Scan,Copier) it is really up to you. I don’t fax so I chose a 3-in-1. A home office will always have the need for scanning, light copying and colour printing. There are several options on the market and they are getting better every day. Here is a good example.

5. A Wireless Router To Tie It All Together

This is where a lot of people think all routers are the same. This could be no further from the truth. These days with needs for higher throughput and almost every device in your house being wireless, you really need a router than can keep up. I would recommend at least an N router that is dual band and you have to spend a little bit on $$ on it. I would say minimum $100. $150 gets you a pretty good device. Here is an example. I have installed this example in several locations and use it myself. It works great! If you have a wireless device built in to your internet box, I would disable it and go with a more powerful option listed above.

6. A USB Hard Disk for Back Up

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend backing up your data. I am sure whatever you do is very important to you and having a disaster recovery plan would be a good thing :) The good news is that USB HD’s are quite inexpensive now for storage you get (I saw 1TB for $70). A lot of these drives also come with backup software. Once you install it, it monitors you drive for your files and backs them up as it needs to. Plug it in periodically and the software should automatically kick in and back up what it needs to. Store the drive in a safe place and if disaster strikes, you have a backup:).

If you have these 6 items in your home office you will be ready for anything your clients throw at you. The examples I have given are quite similar to my home office. The technology changes every day so use this as a guideline. you will be running more efficiently in no time!

 

Cheers!

 

Dan

Windows 10

Windows 10

Windows 10

I was at a partners office the other day and I saw the new version of windows and I have to say I am pretty impressed. I currently run Windows 8.1 and it is definitely an improvement on Windows 8.0. Windows 10 tends to build on that success. It also looks like it wants to be a homogenous platform for not just Windows surface tablets and Windows desktops / Laptops but also for Windows phones and xBox One!

User Interface

Windows 10‘s user interface is similar to that or Windows 8.1 but accommodates for transition of input devices. A good example would taking a docking keyboard and attaching it to a device that has a touch screen, etc.

Multimedia and Gaming

Windows 10 will now interface with xBox One thus bringing the gaming console more into the Windows family of products.

System Updates

I think as an IT administrator this is a really cool feature. Updating Windows 10 will be different then other versions. I know that patches came out on what Microsoft called “Patch Tuesday” which was basically the third Tuesday of every month. Critical security updates came out as soon as they were available. Corporate IT was able to push updates out on their schedule (a lot of times using WSUS). With windows 10, patches will come out as soon as they are available. Corporate IT can follow this method but also delay what updates the don’t want to roll out for whatever reason and have them installed on their schedule.

Which ever way you look at it, Windows 10 looks like it is going to be a winner. What is also great is that if you qualify with your copy of Windows 7, Windows 8.0 or Windows 8.1, you get a free upgrade to Windows 10!(Within the first year of it’s release). Thanks to this Wikipedia article for giving me a good read :)

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