Computers:

How to To Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks

Phishing is an extremely common form of fraud that is similar to phone impersonation attacks that occurred before consumer Internet became widespread. Phishers set up websites that impersonate authentic webpages run by banking institutions, credit card companies, and a variety of other legitimate services. A victim might receive an email from this so-called institution, requesting the victim to update their profile information, change their password, or participate in a survey. The information the victim willingly provides online is then used for fraudulent purposes. Here are a few online browsing tips to keep in mind to avoid these types of attacks.

Check URLs

Before you click on an outgoing link on an email, Microsoft urges Internet users to first check the actual web address of a link before clicking on it. Phishers often use deceptive anchor text – the visible part of the link – to trick readers into clicking links in their email. If you are convinced that this website represents a reputable company, then you might feel comfortable enough entering personal information in this web form. You can check the validity of an URL by first hovering over the link. Scrutinize the URL – if it does not match with the company’s official web address, then do not click it. A few other red alarms include URLs with: number sequences, misspelled company names, non-traditional top-level domains (like .co at the end of an URL), and domain names that include gibberish.

Check HTTPS Security

Most reputable websites that require logins use a security protocol known as HTTPS. This prevents attackers from intercepting usernames and logins during the sign in process. Before you sign into an online account, examine the login page URL at the top of your browser. It should read “https://” before the web address. If you do not see this security protocol being used on a website, then double check the website address to make sure it’s authentic.

Keep Your Tech Updated

Updating your software and operating systems can prevent many current attacks. These patches often come with security updates that prevent current vulnerabilities from affecting your computer. Periodically run software and system updates overnight, so that it doesn’t interrupt your workflow.

If you are the victim of a phishing crime, contact the authorities and make sure you research and select a good attorney to learn about the types of recourse you have. Internet fraud can threaten your online accounts and assets, so it’s important to take action immediately. Before you click unknown links, be sure to examine URLs and security protocols.

Computers:

Home Buyers Are Barely Hitting The Pavement Anymore

In the past, prospective home buyers contacted a real estate agent and started the process of visiting homes. Property after property was viewed and evaluated. At some point, the buyers decided on a home.

It might not have been the perfect home, but it felt good enough after doing all that legwork. Today’s age of online mortgage lending and home listings brings the real estate market into the home, however. Home buyers search for the right property right on the computer, and often find it.

Get pre-approved loan first

Buyers aren’t limited to their local bank anymore. If you go online, you’ll find many lenders looking for their next client. For most lenders, there’s no commitment to take the loan after a quote.

Simple information from the buyer is necessary for a rough estimate on maximum property principal and interest rates. One site can even have multiple lenders competing for a buyer’s business.

The lenders propose their best offer in hopes of winning the client. There are no awkward bank meetings or intimidating clerks. Buyers have a good chance at a perfect loan that fits their financial needs.

Earth view

As technology improves, buyers have a better view of the world than ever before. Specialized laptop, cell phone, and tablet apps and software allow buyers to look at a satellite snapshot of their potential new neighborhood.

Zoom in for a look at street level, from gorgeous park landscaping to unsightly vacant lots. If buyers are looking for a new property in a different neighborhood, a satellite view may give them a better look than a typical drive-by.

Access to statistics on crime and schools

A safe home another goal of buyers. However, it’s sometimes difficult to identify bad neighborhoods with one or two visits alone.

Several online resources offer statistical data regarding both crime levels and school performance. For example, buyers can find out about local sexual predators housed in the area, or last year’s robbery rate.

Alternatively, look up local school scores to find the areas with the brightest students. Schools with dedicated teachers, students, and parents often reflect a close-knit community. All these online resources provide another layer of information for a well-informed choice during house hunting.

Open houses online

Online property listings allow buyers to view dozens of homes in a day, without leaving their computer. As websites have expanded, each listing often shows photos of the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and outdoor areas.

With more photos, properties have a better chance at a sale. Some listings offer a 360-degree view that gives buyers a look around the entire room. Descriptions of amenities, along with filtering applications, allow buyers to pinpoint the perfect property in a specific area. Once it’s found, buyers can ask their Realtor about visiting the property for a tour of the premises.

The online world has made it much easier for both buyers and sellers to find the perfect match. With the right descriptions and and photos on a reputable website, a beautiful home can really shine.

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last update: October 22, 2014

Computers:

Big Data Looks Inward

With every passing month, the business community discovers more benefits of the Big Data revolution. Although transitioning to taking advantage of Big Data requires expense and effort, most firms that pursue this goal realize major achievements. For example, systematic data collection allows businesses to gather incredibly detailed information about their customers. By learning about the behaviors and attitudes of their customers, companies can design more effective marketing campaigns, product lines and lead generation techniques.

Unfortunately, far too many companies are reluctant to change well-established modes to take advantage of Big Data. Such reluctance can come from a number of different places. Companies with solid long-term profitability might feel uncertain about changing winning formulas. By the same token, companies with less profitability are often loathe to make investments in new systems. Time and time again, organizations that take a risk on implementing Big Data solutions achieve worthwhile results. New data collection and analysis procedures can improve revenue streams, or reduce waste that comes as a result from redundant business processes, in potentially surprising ways.

Reducing Costs and Saving Far More than Money

Companies that are struggling to make ends meet should consider prioritizing the implementation of Big Data concepts. Instead of doubling down on old-fashioned methods, adopting new strategies can turn around corporate fortunes quite readily. The potential of Big Data is particularly relevant to the discipline of Business Process Management (BPM). Due to technological advances and vendor competition, companies are gaining affordable access to ever-larger amounts of customer data. If properly used, this data is useful for short-term and strategic decision-making.

BPM platforms are integrated, multifaceted systems for examining business processes in detail. Even for midsized companies, processes can become so complex that it is difficult to see the big picture precisely. By looking inward, Big Data reveals the subtle problems and paradoxes that can lead to systemic crises. With the data provided by BPM platforms, process managers can take decisive actions and forestall growing problems. For example, managers can adjust internal resource streams to prioritize the most profitable activities. While experience and intuition will always play a part in resource management, BPM software is critical for filling in gaps in human knowledge.

Customize, Optimize, Analyze

Generally, BPM platforms can easily handle multiple processes. This is ideal for analyzing the huge amount of data that the Big Data revolution is generating. With a separate analytics engine attached to each process, companies can fine tune their operations with remarkable precision. Although BPM platform vendors provide comprehensive services, each client should take responsibility for optimizing process management. While default vendor analytics are generally useful, people can gain greater insights by customizing analytics to the best of their abilities.

Interestingly, BPM is useful for far more than simply extracting and importing data from various applications. BPM channels all data and improves data quality by identifying missing or damaged items. Combining Big Data concepts and BPM is fairly easy for companies of all size. As awareness of Big Data grows, new BPM tools are increasingly easy to implement and maintain. Oftentimes, these tools require little or no coding for long-term usage. By looking inward and really focusing on internal data, companies can improve their processes and set new standards of success for the future.

Computers:

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Tech Work Survives Your Worst Fears

There’s only one thing that may be harder than performing difficult technical work: recovering emotionally from the disastrous event of losing all that work.

You might assume we’re going to give you the same bland advice you’ve always heard about saving your work. But take a look at the ways that you might manage not to lose your work, and how you can mitigate the danger of these fearsome disasters becoming a horrific reality.

Here are five ways to ensure your work survives your worst fears.

1. Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property protection is an issue of ongoing contention and legal conflicts, but one thing is for certain: you need to protect your work in this way. Due to the lightning viral nature of today’s Internet, and the hunger for great content, the “borrowing” (which is to say, stealing) of creative work is at all-time high.

Ask an attorney who specializes in this type of protection, or check out solid informational sources on intellectual property protection.

2. NDAs

NDA stands for Non Disclosure Agreements, which help to prevent people from running away with your most prized intellectual ideas and properties after they’ve been exposed to them. This is something you’ll definitely want for your developers and employees.

If don’t have NDAs in place, you could lose your hard work to someone who did nothing other than take it from you!

3. Hold workers to milestones

If you’re not setting and measuring milestones, there’s a chance your project (and the hard work involved) will be a complete waste of time. A good resource for this are the principles of lean startups. If you don’t finish the project, you lose your work. Period.

4. Debug

If you’re not testing and debugging everything you build, then you’re potentially making a massive mistake that will kill your entire project. Certain types of bugs, if detected early, can alter the essential design, but if you discover the problems too late, you might not have the budget or time to make the necessary alterations.

5. Backups

Backing up your data has always been a habit that every techie utilizes (or should), but what about the devices themselves?

We’re talking specifically about backup power. You’re going to want to find a battery-based backup service with the kind of ongoing maintenance plan that works for your needs and budget.

When your data is backed up, and the power to get to that data is also backed up, you’ll be especially well protected from any type of calamity that might endanger your ability to use all the work you’ve done.

Computers:

3 Ways an Inventory Management System Can Help Businesses

Technology has revolutionized the way that today’s businesses operate. One type of software that can greatly help with ordering and maintaining correct stock quantities is inventory management software. Here are three ways that businesses in many industries can benefit from this technology.

1) Increased efficiency

Keeping up with a large number of products can painstaking if you have outdated techniques. This is especially true for mid- to large-sized businesses that are dealing with thousands or tens of thousands of products. Using an inventory management system gives business owners a high level of control so they can tell what the exact quantity of a particular product is at any time. Many platforms will automatically notify the right person ahead of time if a product is running low, so it can be reordered without disrupting operations. This way customers always have what they’re looking for and stock quantities can stay at the right number.

2) Comprehensive reporting

Another advantage involves the fact that businesses continually accumulate data. Besides having access to real-time data for an instant view of inventory quantities, the software will analyze data so long-term trends can be identified. For example, if a particular product was experiencing sales spikes at certain times of the year, a business owner could order larger quantities just before the anticipated surge. If a product has witnessed a gradual decline in popularity and is simply wasting shelf space, it could be discontinued to make room for a more popular product. This makes it easier to devise ordering strategies based on solid evidence.

3) Better profit margins

Thanks to the added level of efficiency and smarter ordering, businesses that implement this system can also expect to see higher sales volumes. By ordering the ideal quantity of each product, this makes the process much more cost-effective than simply guessing or going on intuition. Companies are less likely to get stuck with unwanted product lines that they can’t move and the products they do order should sell relatively quickly. It’s also easier to keep track of order management and financials, and the chances of human error are greatly reduced. A platform that integrates with Quickbooks increases efficiency even more because businesses can still use a familiar interface. This makes the implementation process easier and puts businesses in a position to thrive.

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Computers:

4 Early Learning Software Programs for Your Baby or Toddler

There are few things that are more valuable than a passion for learning. Part of being a parent is wanting to give your children the tools they need not only to do well in school, but be successful in life and accomplish their goals.

Study after study shows that the earlier you start educating your child, the better. Early learning is an important part of raising a happy and healthy child: not only helping him or her to be academically smart in a traditional sense, but giving the child the confidence and curiosity to explore the surrounding world.

Early learning technology for your toddler

The benefits of early education are endless. Learning doesn’t start in kindergarten or first grade, it starts at home. If you’re looking for some tools to help cultivate your child’s learning, here are four software programs that are designed to give your child an early lead.

1. Jumpstart Toddler

Knowledge Adventure, the company behind Jumpstart Toddler, has a lot of the same goals you do: to prepare your child to succeed in grade school and beyond. The Jumpstart Toddler software encourages curiosity with engaging challenges, games, music, and graphics.

Preschoolers that use the Jumpstart Toddler software don’t just get the tools they need to become successful learners, but they develop that even-more-important interest in learning as well.

2. Crayola Magic 3D

Many early-learning software programs focus on reading skills, shapes, and colors, but those aren’t the only skills your child should have. With Crayola Magic, kids can draw to their heart’s content and there’s no fear about their leaving crayon marks on the walls.

Creativity and self-expression are important in every stage of life. This program gives kids an outlet to improve their skills and try new things.

3. The Reader Rabbit series

The Learning Company is known for its effective and beloved educational products for children of all ages, from babies and toddlers to fifth graders. With The Learning Company’s software — specifically, the Reader Rabbit games — your child will have fun and learn to read at the same time.

4. Millie’s Math House

Kids learn in different ways, and everyone ends up being better in some subjects than others, so you want to cover all your bases in early education with regard to both subject matter and learning styles.

It’s obviously important to give kids early exposure to thinking critically, exploring creativity, and discovering a love for reading; but the analytic, logical side of their brains usually goes ignored in early learning. A lot of kids struggle with math and science simply because they were never taught to think in terms of numbers, which makes it hard to learn mathematical concepts later on without that basic foundation.

With Millie’s Math House, toddlers are exposed to simple math concepts and get to try their hand at using that particular side of their brain.

As a parent, you want to provide a solid foundation for your child. Part of doing that is to take care of his or her health with a good diet and by treating common problems like colic or infant gas. But you also want to take care of the child’s mental health as well.

If you get children interested in learning from the very beginning, they’re more likely to do better in school (from kindergarten all the way through college) and become lifelong learners. Early education can help toddlers get a jump-start on reading skills and creativity, and even promote good self-esteem.

Computers:

6 Essential Facts About Windows Virtual Private Server Management

Companies have plenty of options today when it comes to managing their servers. They can be dedicated in-house hardware, they can be dedicated but hosted by an outside company, or they can be shared with other firms.

Of course, each option comes at a different cost, with different benefits. Even with a variety of server options available, some companies have clamored that they had needs that weren’t being met by these choices.

This gave rise to another means by which companies could have their servers hosted: Virtual Private Server Hosting. Here are six facts about VPS that everyone should know.

They’re a great option for small businesses

Virtual private servers divide one physical server into multiple virtual servers, which equals more bang for the buck. Since it requires significantly less hardware, the costs are lower. Small businesses also get the perks of a dedicated server in terms of management, performance, and security without the high cost.

They bridge the gap

A blend between sharing a hosted web service and a dedicated hosted service, virtual private servers give customers root-level administrative permissions, which means the benefits of a dedicated hosted service with the lower cost of a shared hosted service.

Sandbox security

Programs are able to operate safely in a virtual private server thanks to sandbox security. This is an environment in which untested programs can be checked to ensure they will run on the actual server.

Personalization

Shared web server hosting may be the least expensive route, but it comes with security risks and the potential for down time on a website during high peak traffic. With the power of a virtual private server, one company can run multiple websites, which equals greater personalization and performance.

Mainframe

The concept of dividing servers isn’t new and in fact has been around since the era of mainframe computers. Thanks to cloud computing and virtualization technology advancements, companies no longer have “either or” choices.

Combining cost savings with the benefits of a dedicated server (whether it’s hosted in the cloud or not) also comes with the security, administration, and personalization most companies expect and indeed require today.

With that said, companies that choose the virtual private server route should have IT administrative know-how or hire a consultant or consulting company to manage it. Since there are many ways to customize a virtual private server environment, getting the most out of it can be accomplished with smart configurations and excellent management.

Computers:

How Cloud Services Can Help Your Business

In today’s economy, small business owners are more interested in finding ways to increase productivity, save money, and reduce time at the office. The more your business can automate, the less you have to worry about. When you leave the drone work to cloud services, you increase your chances of getting home in time for dinner with the family every night.

Cloud services are beneficial

Cloud services offer a number of benefits to small businesses and their owners. The biggest benefit is that cloud services store all your information in one place. You don’t have to worry about having a number of different software programs that can only be accessed from one computer or another.

With cloud services, you have the ability to use apps that can be accessed by anyone in the company from anywhere in the world, at any time of day or night. This is one of the most important of the many benefits cloud services have to offer.

Apps that make life simple

When it comes to running your business, you’d probably be far more productive if you didn’t have to worry about all the little details of everyday business activities. With an app like DropBox, you and the rest of your employees can have easy access to any of your files at any moment, from any device that has Internet service.

This means you can open and work on that file your coworker was working on in California, from your meeting room in Miami. You can collaborate on projects with this app because anyone working on the project can make changes, additions, and deletions at any time, all of which immediately update on everyone else’s device.

Productivity apps

Microsoft and Google are names you recognize. They’re also names that can help you manage your office productivity. With apps designed to keep track of your time, your calendar, and your appointments, you will also know what’s going on in your office the second a change is made to anything.

Saving money

Another benefit of cloud services is the ability to save your business a significant amount of money. You can save on everything from Internet costs to operating costs to shipping costs. The many different available apps can help you to save money, increase productivity, and become more successful.

Cloud services are imperative for the success of any small business. Their benefits far outweigh any reason you possibly could have not to utilize this service. There’s no time like the present to start saving money and time, and laying the groundwork for greater success.

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