Category Archives: Guest bloggers

Net Neutrality Rules: Know What the Fuss is all about

Net neutrality has become a controversial issue of late, with the American lawmakers, Internet service providers and consumer advocates locking their horns over the new set of rules that the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has proposed. What had started out as a campaign to make the Internet more open and fair for everyone has ended up becoming a debate that is full of accusations, contradictions, and criticism. If you aren’t really sure what exactly is going on and what the fuss is all about, you’ve arrived at the right place for a short and simple explanation.

A Half-baked Campaign to Open the Internet

In order to understand what’s happening right now, it’s important that we begin from the point when it all started. Back in 2010, the FCC introduced the Net Neutrality rules that banned Internet service providers from intentionally blocking or slowing down web traffic to certain content and applications. The intended motivation behind this move was to curb unreasonable discrimination against any web traffic or legal applications. While the full set of rules applied on wireline carriers, the wireless carriers were only banned from discriminating against blocking access to the applications or services of their competitors. Intriguingly, “commercially reasonable” discrimination was still allowed, while only potential “pay-for-priority” deals to help content companies deliver their traffic faster was prohibited.

Appeal and New Plan

In January 2014, Verizon filed a lawsuit against the Net Neutrality rules in an appeals court. The court ruled that the FCC cannot treat Internet service providers as a public utility and therefore cannot force them to treat all web traffic equally. The verdict was met with strong criticism from the campaigners for the freedom of speech. Instead of appealing against the verdict, the FCC decided to revise the previous Net Neutrality rules, this time taking both the wireline and wireless carriers into consideration equally. The proposed new set of rules would prohibit the Internet providers from blocking or impeding users’ access to any website or legal application, and would further require them to disclose just how exactly are they managing traffic on their networks. However, the provision for “commercially reasonable” deals to give priority to certain Web traffic has been included, though the FCC is seeking opinion on whether “some or all” pay-for-priority deals should be presumed illegal. Furthermore, it also asks about the reclassification of broadband providers. As part of the process, the new regulations are up for public comment until September 10.

The Grievances of Consumer Advocates

Naturally, the consumer advocates, including the tech giants like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, are not too happy with the proposed rules, contending that these rules would favor certain content companies at the expense of user freedom and experience. Internet service providers could offer an unfair advantage to companies that are willing to pay big bucks for “fast lanes”. In order to prevent this discrimination and enforce stricter regulations, consumer advocates are pushing for reclassification of Internet providers as public utilities, giving them the same status as phone and cable companies.

Internet Providers’ Opposition to the Proposed Rules

Stakeholders that opposed 2010’s Net Neutrality rules have criticized the new set of rules as well. According to them, the regulatory body is trying to overreach into their business dealings. They fear that stricter Net Neutrality regulation can affect their operations and sustainability as it could discourage investment in the expensive network infrastructure.

FCC’s attempt to bring down the walls of Internet has gotten it trapped in a whirlpool that it may not have an easy time escaping. With neither consumer advice groups nor broadband providers and their sympathizers satisfied with the proposed set of Net Neutrality rules, the debate seems to be headed towards a deadlock.

This guest post was written by Kat Kay, who recommends www.stealthmate.com for monitoring software including cell phone tracking, parental controls and employee monitoring.

What impact will 4G have on home broadband?

When it comes to weighing up precisely what impact 4G will have on home broadband, it will partly depend on what standard of internet access home users have to begin with. For those who do have superfast broadband, it may come down to making a choice as to which one to stick with, or whether it’s financially viable to opt for both. People who can comfortably afford it will probably go for both, whereas users who are making the choice will likely weigh up the advantages.

More and more people now rely on the net for work. For those users who use the web at home and for business purposes, this may be a perfect opportunity to have a service that can be used at home, work and on the move without having to pay as many as three separate bills. Users who live and work in cities are more likely see the advantages of this sooner rather than later and as such, many will no doubt go for this option.

4G will have numerous advantages to business users, such as quicker connection speeds whilst on the move, faster file sharing and conference calling from hotels whilst away from the home or office. To many business users, 4G will be something they can’t live without if they are to keep up with their competitors. This will leave them with the question, do I really need a landline connection as well?

Landline or mobile broadband?

However, I don’t see this being viable for too many people very quickly, as for all those users who live in remote areas. Many are still awaiting a quality 3G service, 4G may not be right around the corner for them.

To them, the decision will largely depend on whether they receive 4G before superfast broadband or not. For consumers who at present, just have a standard landline connection, the chance to have superfast broadband will likely be welcomed with open arms.

If 4G then becomes available, people will have to make the decision as to whether they want to drop the home connection in favor of just having a 4G connection. Anyone who is already tied in to a superfast broadband service and who is happy with it, may just not want the bother of moving. After all, why fix something if it isn’t broken?

With all that said I think the thing this will make the biggest impact when it comes to deciding whether to have just 4G, or whether to keep the home broadband or not, is money. At present superfast broadband can be significantly more affordable, depending on how much time users spend on the net.

For those users who don’t use the internet very often, 4G could be a financially sound replacement if living in an area with acceptable coverage. However, for users who rely on the internet for downloading, file sharing, live streaming and for general use, especially families. superfast broadband or just a normal home connection may still be the way forward at present, with 4G being a nice added extra as part of a good cell phone contract.

As the costs of 4G come down over time, the dynamics of the situation will change and consumers will no doubt have a rethink.

Why the World Needs Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a single board computer that has been created in the United Kingdom by a group called the Raspberry Pi Foundation. In approximately one year’s time, there has been a lot of attention growing around the Raspberry Pi and the two incredibly low priced models that the foundation is currently taking pre-orders for; they are retailing for just USD $25 and USD $35, depending on which model a user purchases. There has been a lot of buzz and a lot of information released on this tiny PC, but many may be wondering if we really need this incredibly inexpensive PC. Even more may be curious whether or not this computer actually is any good. The world needs this PC, and the following are just some of the reasons why.

The price

Raspberry Pi was developed to be as inexpensive; it is the cost of an average textbook. This was done so that the computers would be affordable for most students, parents, and schools. Even though $25 or $35 might still be a stretch for the tightest budgets, these computers are just as affordable as any other textbook. This will serve to get computers into even more eager hands. At these low prices, teachers almost anywhere need not feel guilty about including these in their curriculum, just as they would a textbook. Additionally, more students will start looking to take programing classes if they know that they can afford the necessary materials so easily.

Education

Programming skills are best developed when still young, and these skills are becoming more and more important as computers are becoming a greater and greater part of our daily lives. Less young people have been learning this schools as walled gardens and closed off game consoles become more common. The older, more flexible PCs that many programmers grew up experimenting on have become a thing of the past. With the Raspberry Pi and its accessibly low price, more and more young people will have access to these machines. Computer programming can not only be taught to more people, but it can well be taught in more places too, areas where programing has not been taught before due to low incomes and high equipment costs.

The demand

Since the foundation released information on its plans, they have been receiving emails from all over the globe asking about their PCs. Particularly in poorer, developing nations, there are those interested in ordering bulk, both as institutions for learning and as resellers. Preorders have been steadily streaming in for the devices, and this seems to indicate that not only will the Raspberry Pi be a hit, but it is a device that is much needed. A small computer that is inexpensive to make, the greatest hope to have for this device is that demand can be met, since this is a device that the world truly needs.

Written by John Adler, freelance writer who covers webmaster topics, flash website examples, social media, android apps, and other internet trends

How You’re Spending Too Much on Internet Services

One thing I’ve noticed while spending some time learning about internet services is that there are lots of people out there confused. Confused about how internet connections work, the different types available and the best connections for them. Because of the confusion, it’s all too easy for these people to overspend on their internet services.

Could you be overspending too?

7 Ways You’re Costing Yourself (Extra) Money

Below I’ve come up with 7 different ways that you might be costing yourself extra money each month in regards to your internet service. Even if you only find one that you’re doing each month, correcting the problem can save you tens, if not hundreds of dollars per month.

1. You Buy The Fastest Internet Plans

One mistake that people make is that they buy the fastest internet plans. In many cases I think they’re playing it safe, overcompensating “just in case.”

Better to have more, than not enough, right?

But little do they realize that this approach is costing them money.

The truth of the matter is, you don’t need the fastest internet plans. Most of you will be able to do just fine using a 5 or 10 Mbps connection — and maybe even less. You’ll still be able to browse the internet, check your email and Facebook page with no problem, watch the occasional movie or download music.

I wouldn’t bother with the higher bandwidth packages unless you plan on streaming lots of videos, downloading big files or sending hundreds of hi-res images. If you have a large family that is constantly online at the same time, then that would be a good reason too. But if not, do yourself a favor and downgrade, if possible, and you’ll save yourself $10, $20, $30 or more per month.

2. You Don’t Take Advantage of Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

Data is expensive, and with the caps and family plans carriers are putting into place it’s not going to get cheaper any time soon. In fact, the amount that people spend on data might go up considering all the new apps and services that are coming out that emphasize consuming it.

With that in mind, you should definitely take advantage of wi-fi hotspots, either in your own home at your local cafe, library or bookstore. Even if you’re forced to buy a beverage to sit inside Starbucks, it could very well be cheaper than the cost of the data that you’d use in a day.

More and more companies and cities are offering free wi-fi connections every day, too. So it’s only going to get easier to find free internet access.

3. You Regularly Exceed Your Data Caps

Like I said above, data plans are expensive. They’re even more expensive when you exceed your data limits.

For example, you could get 5GB of data for about $40 per month. However, many carriers have overage fees that will set you back $10 or $15 for every GB over your cap you go. That’s anywhere from a $2 to $7 increase per GB for going over. If you do this enough, it would just make sense to buy a larger plan.

So it would be a good idea to keep track of the data you use. Above, I was referring to mobile data, and there are numerous apps that help you keep track of your data usage. However, you can also keep track of your data on your fixed line by logging into your account online. Many internet providers also send out alerts when you’re getting too close to your cap.

Use this information to determine if it would make more sense to increase your cap (if possible), so that you avoid any costly overages. You might even consider reducing how much data you use, too.

4. Your Router is Unlocked

This is an easy one to overlook, but leaving your router unlocked is costing you money.

For one thing, if people are able to access your internet connection, they’re using up your data. Although the data caps are much higher for fixed lines compared to mobile, depending on what you use the internet for, someone piggybacking off your connection can be enough to send you over your limit.

What’s more is that when others use your internet, they hog your bandwidth. So essentially you’re getting a slower connection, even though you’re paying for a faster one.

5. You Buy 3G Devices (Compared to Wi-Fi Only or You Have Multiple Devices in One Home)

I think another mistake is buying 3G devices when you could buy wi-fi only devices instead. Not only do the 3G devices cost $50-$100+ more, but then you have to buy a mobile plan in order to use them while on the go.

If you don’t need to use 3G that often, you’re better off buying a wi-fi only device and trying to find wi-fi hotspots when you need to use the internet versus buying a data plan for “just in case.”

6. You’re Not Bundling When It Makes Sense

Bundling your services can save you quite a bit of money. It’s very easy to spend $150-$200+ every month if you’re paying for phone, TV and internet separately. However, if you bundle your services with one provider, you can cut that cost nearly in half.

The downside to bundling, however, is that it’s usually for a limited time. After your contract is up your bill will increase. That said, I’ve seen many threads and blog posts from customers who’ve had success talking to their provider and getting an extension on their old plan, or getting a new deal altogether for renewing their contract.

7. You’re Using a Local Service

Although I can certainly understand supporting local small businesses, or not having too many choices due to where you live, receiving your internet connection from a small, local ISP can be costing you money. From my experience I’ve seen small providers charge 25-50% more for similar connections provided by the nationwide providers. My best guess is that this is a supply/demand sort of thing, or just that they aren’t big enough to where they can afford to offer lower prices. Either way, if you don’t shop around first and just work with your local provider, you could be spending significantly more per month and year for the exact same service (and possibly less/worse).

So there you have it — 7 things you might be doing with your internet service that’s costing you more money. Just addressing one of these issues can save you hundreds of dollars per year, maybe even per month.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with what I said above? Is there anything that you’ve tried or done that has helped you save money on your internet bill? I’d like to hear about them.

About the author: Hi, my name is Matt. I’m one of the guys behind www.PlugThingsIn.com. My site helps people understand and find the best internet connections for their home or business.

How to Get Rid of Malware

Malware has been infecting computers pretty much ever since the internet became commonplace in the homes of people all over the world. The hackers that care creating these programs are certainly intelligent, to say the least, but fortunately the individuals who design software to protect against such programs are even smarter. This means there are multiple surefire ways to rid your computer of pesky, and possibly harmful, malware that your computer may be infected with.

Before you can remove malware from your computer it is important to know what it is and how to detect it. The truth is, not all malware is harmful, but all malware does have the potential to put your personal information stored on your computer at risk. Malware also has the potential to affect your computer’s performance, which is not something you want to deal with if you use your computer on a regular basis. This is often the first sign that there is something going on, a change in performance, so if you notice this it is important to take the next step to figuring out the problem. Once you are sure there is malware, most likely because you performed a scan on your system, then you can remove the malware. There are a few specific steps you should take to do this.

1st Step

Malware can be removed manually but it is generally advised that the average computer user utilizes a removal program rather than doing it manually. The first step for doing this, after running a scan to make sure you even have malware of course, is to choose a malware removal software program and download from the internet. Be sure that when you do this, though, that you are getting a legitimate malware removal program and not one that will infect you with even more malware.

2nd Step

Next you will want to determine whether you want the free version of a specific software, or whether you wish to use the paid for extended version of the software. Most malware removal software provides both options, and it is important to know that the free software generally will do the trick.

3rd Step

After downloading the malware removal software you will want to rescan your computer so that the specific program can find the malware. This allows the software to queue the malware for removal from your system.

4th Step

Finally, you will want to direct the software to remove the malware from your computer. Be sure when doing this that you pay close attention to any question the system has or to any options that you may have to choose from. This will ensure that the software performs at its best.

Last But Not Least

After removing the malware from your computer it is important that you protect yourself in the future. A simple free virus or spyware protection software program can help you avoid future infections, which means it protects against your personal security as well.

Oliver Taylor is website marketing specialist interested in web and malware

Prolonging Your Laptop’s Battery

We’ve all experienced the situation when we’re saving the last few KB of that all-important file, and the battery on your laptop finally runs out of juice and there’s no mains supply to bail you out. There’s nothing more frustrating, yet there are a few simple things that you can do in order to avoid these sticky situations. Particularly if you’re regularly out of the house and need to use your laptop on the move, the last thing you want to happen is run out of power. Take heed of these few top tips.


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Go green

There are more and more ‘green’ laptops cropping up in the big electrical stores, which use less energy and give you extended battery life. Not only is it great for the environment, it can help you avoid being caught out in those important situations. Green laptops aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they should certainly be considered.

Close down programs in the background

Without even knowing it, you’ll often have several programs running quietly in the background. Although they might not be in use, they are still in operation, adding to your CPU load and adding to the power consumption. Close down any programs that won’t be required and reduce the power consumption. It’s a simple thing to remember, and it can drastically increase your battery life.

Keep the battery clean

This is not such an obvious point, but keeping the connection points on your battery clean will actually make your laptop more efficient, than if the points are dirty. Use a moist cloth with rubbing alcohol to thoroughly clean the points, and the electricity will pass more efficiently, meaning that little power is wasted. This too can help prolong your battery.

Disable the wireless antenna

If you don’t require a wi-fi connection, it is advisable to disconnect your wireless antenna. If it constantly searches for a connection, this will naturally consume more power than if it’s turned off.

Dim the screen

Many laptops now give users the option to control the brightness of the screen. As you can imagine, the brighter the screen, the more power is consumed. If you’re still able to use your laptop with the screen dimmed, you should do this to save on power.

This post was written by Kate Fellows, who loves writing tech reviews and searching for the latest laptop deals online.

How to Upgrade for Digital Television

Analog TV is fading fast now that HD televisions have become the standard. In many places across the United States, analog signals are no longer offered, and a digital receiver is necessary to watch anything on a television that’s not hooked into a cable or satellite feed.

If you’ve purchased a television within the last two years, it probably has a digital tuner built in. This will suffice for most of the nearly 100 million households that subscribe to cable or satellite service, though it’s more relevant to the latter as, unlike cable, satellite feeds don’t include local channels. Satellite service is also much more prone to interruption due to weather disturbances or problems with the dish, so having an antenna to amplify digital broadcasts is a wise idea for Dish Network and Direct TV subscribers.

Cable service is much more reliable, and it includes local channels with every package offered. However, the quality of your service hinges on your location and your provider, so you should take inventory of how often you’re without service before you invest in DTV equipment. The vast majority of cable users probably won’t get any use out of broadcast signals, although depending on where you live there might be enough programming available for free to justify ending your cable service altogether. Digital television tends to offer a wider array of information and entertainment than analog signals used to, and there may be upward of 30 channels available at your location. You should check AntennaWeb and TV Fool to see what’s available before purchasing new equipment.

If you decide to ready your home for digital TV, these are the things you’ll need to do.

Pick the Right Equipment for Your Location

The good news is that it may not require much work to get the best quality signal. Many households don’t need to mount a antennas on their roofs; instead, a device that goes in their attic may provide all of the signal amplification that the need, or if they’re in a major hot spot a digital tuner might be enough in itself.

Both AntennaWeb and TV Fool are invaluable during the planning process because they’ll tell you exactly what’s available and how likely it is that you’ll be able to get noise-free reception. TV Fool gives a detailed overview of the signal strength at your location through color-coded zones. If channel is in the green zone green, you should have no trouble picking it up with a tuner and an indoor antenna. If a signal is in the yellow zone, you’ll probably need a roof-mounted antenna to pick it up. Signals in the pink zone will require a roof-mounted antenna plus amplification, and signals in the gray zone probably won’t reach you, but it might be possible to receive them with a high antenna and a high-gain signal amplifier.

Check Whether Local Stations Broadcast on the UHF or VHF Spectrum

When digital first overtook analog, most channels were broadcasted on the UHF spectrum. Now some of them broadcast on the VHF band, and while it’s still the less common of the two, antennas are built primarily around one kind of signal or the other. An antenna geared toward the UHF spectrum will have immense difficulty displaying channels on the VHF spectrum, if it can receive them at all, so it’s vital to choose equipment that’s compatible with the most common signals in your area.

Wire Your House for Multiple Televisions

Since you’ll already be installing digital receivers and antennas, why not run cable through the walls so that you can enjoy better reception and a greater number of channels on all of your TV sets? You may need to install multiple amplifiers to ensure every TV set receives an optimal signal, but getting it done sooner is less hassle than doing it later, and it’s likely to provide an incredible amount of convenience down the road even if there isn’t an immediate use for extra TV connection.

If You Have Cable, Check for Local Digital Channels

There is one reason to set up an antenna if you have cable: Cable companies don’t always broadcast local channels with the best signal quality. If you can receive the signal directly, you can get better picture and sound than if you watch it through your cable box. If you watch a lot of local stations, the extra investment might be worth it.

For early adopters and people that switched when the government forced a transition to digital broadcasting, preparing for digital television was a confusing maze that required an immense amount of information to properly navigate. Today, things are quite a bit simpler, but you’ll still need to do a bit of searching to figure out what’s right for you. Luckily that process has been simplified, and the technology has gotten cheaper just like it always does. Whether you have access to cable and satellite programming or you don’t, you can potentially benefit from installing a digital antenna for your home.

Summary

  • Check to see which channels are available over the airwaves through AntennaWeb and TV Fool.
  • Learn what type of equipment you’ll need and which of the two spectrums it needs to be compatible with.
  • Future-proof your setup by installing an antenna with multiple televisions in mind.
  • Don’t write-off digital broadcasting if you have a cable or satellite subscription. It’s useful as a backup when your service is down, and you can get channels you can’t get with satellite or you might get a higher-quality broadcast over the airwaves than you can get with cable.

Paul is writing articles for Quatrix Antennas, a Sydney based TV antenna installation specialist company and they specialise in upgrades to digital TV.

Are Refurbished Electronics Worth Buying?

The price tag on electronics may see high in today’s economy, which is why many consumers are turning to refurbished devices to alleviate some of their financial burden. While it may be cheaper to upgrade your technology by purchasing an item that has been previously used, do refurbished electronics really hold up against their in-the-box counterparts?


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Understanding Refurbishment

For many, the decision to buy refurbished electronics is a difficult one to make. First things first, you should know exactly what refurbished means. You have probably scrolled through the website of your wireless provider and seen several refurbished cell phones available to buy. These are generally offered at lower prices and occasionally even free depending on whether you sign a new two year contract.

Essentially, when a smartphone or any other electronics device is deemed as refurbished, it means that it was previously owned and returned to the manufacturer or company selling it, usually due to a defect. The device is then tested at the factory to ensure they are in top condition. The defect found in these items is usually minor, so much so that they are virtually undetectable. At the same time, there may be some sort of flaw found within them, whether it was due to the manufacturer or if it sustained damage when the person received it as a shipment in the mail. If there are any damages found during this testing stage, it will be repaired to the original standard and then repackaged. When they are re-sold, they hit the shelves with a new price tag, one that is much more affordable than when the device was brand new.

One Buyer’s Remorse is Another Buyer’s Bargain

In some instances, an electronics device that is referred to as “refurbished” may not actually be refurbished at all. A portion of items that are sold as such have never even been used or even removed from their original boxes. Sometimes, a consumer will make a purchase and then experience what is known as “buyer’s remorse” and return it. Of course, if you buy a refurbished device, you have no way of knowing its history prior to getting it in your hands.

The Deal

Most refurbished electronics are in as good condition as those that are purchased brand new. The chances that you will not notice any difference from an item that was new when you bought it is quite slim. At the same time, you should always remember that buying refurbished products means you are buy them “as is.”

All in all, it is worth buying refurbished electronics devices because you will save money. The odds that you will notice a manufacturing flaw or other defect are generally slim to none and you will have the satisfaction of enjoying your devices while knowing you got a bargain on them.

Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher working out of the great state of Texas. He has been writing about quality electronics refurbishment for several years.

You Might Not Have Internet this Summer, so Says Facebook

Imagining life without internet would be a daunting task even for someone who isn’t really a tech buff these days. So the thought of actually experiencing this should send chills down your spine. And if the noise generated by Facebook is to be believed, some of us are in for a summer of some serious goose bumps courtesy DNSChanger.

Ninth of July

DNSChanger, a computer monitoring software or infection, came to the core thanks to international hackers’ endeavor to run an advertising scam which would have helped them inject computer monitoring software – like the keylogger in a few cases – into their targeted systems; and help it did. The FBI, in an oddball moment, spread a safety net via government computers to bail out the infected users. However, the word is that these bailed out connections would no longer work after July 9 since the safety net system is going to be shut down.

Facebook’s Also Pulls Up Its Socks

FBI is campaigning for people to visit a website which informs whether or not their system is infected, and also how it can be fixed, since these users would not be able to access the Internet after July 9. Now onwards, Facebook would also inform infected users about the risks of their infection and how to rectify them, which is a result of the social networking site’s work with DNSChanger Working Group. In a way, Facebook is following the footsteps of Google who has been clamoring about the need for campaigns with regards to infected computers.

Absolute Lack of Awareness

It is common for users to have menacing software – like a keylogger or other kinds of spyware – in their systems, have their antivirus deactivated and yet know nothing about it. And the likelihood is that once the users are without Internet after July 9 and open their Internet Explorer page and get the ‘page not found’, the only thought that’d spring would be to believe that their connection is broken. Therefore campaigning is the need of the hour or else the infected users might end up spending their summers cursing their Internet connections instead of taking the necessary steps to overcome their issue.

DNS is a Massive Network

DNS is a huge network formulated by a multitude of servers, which translates web addresses into numerical addresses for the computers’ use. The targeted computers have been programmed in such a way so that a rogue DNS server is eventually used by the said users. This enables the attackers to link up these computers to imitated versions of various websites at the users’ expense.

The monetary gain for the hackers is quite colossal, especially since they earn huge profits through advertisements that originally appear on the fraudulent websites that the victims end up visiting. This particular scan has mustered a mammoth $14 billion for the hackers, according to FBI, and of course that number would keep on mounting unless sufficient awareness is created and in turn the necessary precautionary measures are taken.

Author Bio

Jane Andrew is a writer and guest blogger of mobistealth with years of experience in tech industry. She loves to write about keylogger and monitoring software for computers. You can also follow her on Twitter @janeandrew01 to get tip about cell phone and computer monitoring.

How to Protect Yourself From Hackers!

Bypass Censorship and Assess Social Websites Abroad

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the popularity of social media.  A phenomenon that originally captured the attention of college-aged students has spread to include people of all ages around the world.  Social media allows friends and relatives to maintain communication, regardless of their physical distances.  Many people travel the world for business or pleasure.  Social websites allow them to keep in touch.

Some countries, schools and corporate networks block access to social media. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, lets users bypass these restrictions. With a VPN, world travelers are able to connect to their favorite social websites and maintain important personal relationships.

VPN Connections vs. Non-VPN Connections

When you connect to the Internet without a VPN, your ISP assigns your device an IP address. The websites you visit can see your location based on that IP address. Data sent to and from your device is unencrypted and plainly visible to your ISP, the websites you visit and malicious third parties.

ISPs use this information to preferentially limit bandwidth speed. Websites use this information to build a profile about you. Third parties use this information to steal sensitive personal information like usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.

When you connect to the Internet with a VPN, a secure private tunnel is created. The traffic still flows through your ISP, but it is encrypted and travels through the VPN server before reaching its destination. This prevents you ISP from seeing the content of your traffic or what you do online. It also prevents the websites you visit from seeing where you are located.

Because your ISP and network administrators can’t see what websites you visit with a VPN, they are unable to block social media sites. For example, if an American user tries to access an American social media website from China without a VPN, that site will be blocked by the Chinese government. When that same user accesses the site using a US VPN server, the traffic is encrypted between the user and the VPN server. The Chinese government cannot see what website you are connecting to or what the nature of the connection is. The user is then effectively connecting to the Internet just as if they were located in America.

Similarly, some websites themselves block access to users outside of a given geographical region based on their IP address. In the previous example, say the America website itself blocked access to Chinese users. When the user in China connects to the American website using a US VPN server, he is given an American IP address. Because he appears to be located in America the website does not block access.

 Conclusion

Social websites have become very popular with users around the world.  They allow people to remain in contact despite great geographical distances.  A VPN allows users to access social websites from anywhere in the world, even where access to those sites is restricted.

Jack Hays writes about internet security and freedom.  He recomends that anyone traveling abroad use a VPN.  His articles educated readers about bypassing censorship and geographic restrictions.

Essential iPhone Apps for Summer

Summer is almost here! Are you ready? You’ve put away your winter clothes, shopped for a new bathing suit, and opened the pool. As the days get longer and the nights get warmer, you’ll enjoy every minute of it. If you want to truly get the most out of your summer this year, don’t forget to download these essential apps to your iPhone.

Mixologist Drink Recipes; $0.99

During the summer, you’ll have plenty of chances to relax and imbibe. Your friend’s backyard barbecue, lounging by the pool, eating dinner on the deck – all of these occasions and many more are always a lot more fun with a drink in your hand. The Mixologist Drink Recipes app will give you ideas for the most refreshing summer drinks. With almost 8,000 drink recipes, there’s something for everyone. And when you’re on vacation, use the bar and liquor locator to find the nearest hot spots.
Beach Finder; $0.99

Every beach bum knows that no two beaches are the same. Every beach has its own character and local flair, and different activities are common in different places. If you want to go surfing, you won’t go to the same beach as the sunbathers. When you want to find a new beach near you, whether you’re at home or on a vacation to the shore, Beach Finder will let you know the nearest options. You can read beachgoer comments, and more than 5,000 beaches are included in the database.
Coppertone MyUVAlert; Free

When the weather heats up and you’re spending a lot more time in the sun, you know how important it is protect yourself against the sun’s harmful rays. If you want to prevent skin cancer and wrinkles, you have to be smart about applying sunscreen. This app from Coppertone will let you know the weather and UV index for your current location or anywhere you want to know about, such as your vacation destination. You can set sunscreen application reminders so you’ll remember when it’s time to reapply, and you can get personalized sunscreen recommendations based on your skin type.
Grill-It!; $0.99

In the summer, you might attend or host a different barbecue every week. Barbecues are so popular because the food is so good, not to mention it’s a great time to socialize and enjoy the nice weather. For your next barbecue, download the Grill-It! app and you’ll have access to hundreds of really great-tasting recipes. You can access recipes for beef, poultry, vegetables, seafood, burgers and more, and each recipe comes with easy-to-follow instructions, notes, and photographs.
Nike Training Club; Free

If you don’t have your ideal beach body yet, it’s never too late to start. And if you’re already a fitness buff, you know there’s nothing like working out in the nice, warm weather. One awesome fitness app to download is Nike Training Club. You can customize a workout based on your goals and preferences, and there are more than 85 workouts and 130 drills. You can view videos that demonstrate techniques and drills, and keep track of your workout progress.

Vanessa Jones is a cell phone and technology enthusiast.  She is also an avid writer and enjoys giving advice to others on how to get the best technology and gadgets for the best prices.

Photo Credit: reticulating

5 Reasons Why Cloud Computing Is the Future of Storing Your Digital Data

With the cloud technology available today, companies are expected to provide efficient and competitively priced services. Cloud services have advanced to the stage where they can be utilised by companies to manage their entire IT system infrastructure. Migrating to cloud computing enables companies to shift their focus on providing quality products and services to their clients while cloud providers manage their IT infrastructure.

Cloud computing increases business flexibility and efficiency while decreasing costs that are associated with running physical hardware and software. The growing challenges of maintaining a profitable company has led to many business owners to switch to a cloud storage solution. There are many advantages in migrating to cloud computing. Here is a list of the main reasons to move your computing resources to the cloud.

Cost-Efficient

One of the main reasons for a company to switch to cloud technology is to reduce costs. Since cloud software is installed on a remote server, it eliminates costs associated with purchasing expensive hardware and support equipment. Businesses only need to pay for the services they use and through these incremental payments; they can save money by not having to purchase costly software. This not only saves electricity, but also cuts down the need to hire employees for maintaining servers. Companies like Commensus, offer cloud-based solutions which eliminate the need for investing money in physical hardware. It is more cost-effective for businesses to utilise cloud technology than purchasing and maintaining their own servers.

Security

This is the most important aspect for companies when deciding on a cloud provider. Data security is crucial, so much so that cloud server provider’s business depends on it. Security is the main concern for cloud providers, as such they ensure that their servers are impermeable and that data security measures are centralised across the network. The importance of maintaining the integrity of servers is realised by cloud provider and, as such, companies like Commensus utilise Tier 3+ data centres to provide an efficient and secure service for their clients.

cloud computing

Greener Environment

In general, cloud computing decreases carbon emissions by up to 30%. Companies who run their own servers often do not utilise the full computing power that the servers can provide. This leads to an increase in power bills and limits the efficiency of servers. Cloud computing ensure that servers are efficiently utilised and that maximum load-balancing is achieved. Cloud providers also allow you to virtualise your computing resources so that you stay in full control of your system while achieving maximum efficiency.

Greater Accessibility

Through the use of cloud based solutions, companies gain access to new software developments and services while only having to pay for the resources they use. Cloud computing provides easy access to data such as emails, documents, folders and images from any device with an internet connection, including: smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. Cloud solutions provide better business flexibility as it enables workers to share information and collaborate with each other to complete company projects. With easier project management and information collaboration, businesses can save time and function more efficiently.

Minimal Downtime

Cloud storage is more effective in reducing server downtime. The best cloud storage companies ensure that your service has minimal downtime. Companies such as Commensus, utilise Tier 3+ data centres that provide a reliable solution with built in disaster recovery, this ensures that your data is safe and accessible in the event of a server crash. Cloud providers seldom have downtime; even during software updates it is ensured that the clients get minimal service interruptions.

Overall, there are many advantages to using cloud computing to store your digital data. The convenience and cost-efficiency provided by cloud computing cannot be overlooked by businesses. Cloud computing enhances business flexibility by providing greater accessibility and allows workers to collaborate on a range of projects.

This is a guest article from contributor writer John Szabo. John enjoys writing about all things tech, and this time he wrote an article for Commensus, one of the leading providers of IT managed services to the finance, alternative investment and government sector. Based in Central London, Commensus offers the best quality cloud hosting solutions in the UK.

3 Luxury Accessories for your iPad

It is hard to believe you can make the iPad better, but with a few luxury accessories, you can. These embellishments make it stand out from others, make it easier to use and expand the limits of what it can do.

Luxury Designer Cases

If you want to protect your iPad and make it look different from those of your friends, get a luxury designer case. One of the most trendy and luxurious is the Oscar de la Renta iPad Clutch. Mr. de la Renta was motivated to make these beautiful and functional cases when he bought his own iPad. These cases, or ‘clutches’, have exotic designs provided by the leather of a python or that of a crocodile; it’s your choice. At the risk of a pun, it is fair to say that both are striking but only in appearance. The python clutch is available in rose, red and taupe and the crocodile version is embossed black.

modulR Accessory System

This is another unique case, but it goes even further than that. The modulR is an accessory system that makes iPad usage convenient anywhere and at any time. Use its stand to tilt your iPad vertically for sharing content with others, or use it to tilt the device lower for surfing the web. If you expect company, use the modulR to suspend your iPad on the wall to share your pictures and other content with them. It has a universal swing mount, so you can push it out of the way under a cabinet while you are busy, or use it to mount the iPad in a car. Of course, you can just keep it simple and use the hand strap to carry the device around.

SHOWWX+ HDMI

Use your iPad along with SHOWWX+ HDMI to connect to the big screen. You can display widescreen resolution images up to 100 inches in size with this combination. The HDMI offers digital signal processing for perfect images and for watching movies and television shows from iTunes. Another great feature of SHOWWX+ HDMI is video mirroring. That means that you can project games, photos, presentations, movies, videos and other media that you see on your display on the SHOWWX+ HDMI. The sound is good too and all you need is external speakers or a set of ear buds. You have many options for protecting, working with and maximizing your iPad’s potential. If you like lavish things, go for the Oscar de la Renta iPad Clutch. If you are more practical, the modulR system is for you. For big screen video, get the SHOWWX+ HDMI.

90% of Jack Rasmussen’s time is spent with his head in his iPad. On the rare occasions that it isn’t, he writes articles like this one and maintains his website www.ipadprojector.org.

What is a Cheap Laptop?

Cheap laptops – do they really exist? Or is the idea just a thing of fantasy, a term coined by the big retailers with the sole aim of duping us into purchasing something that we perhaps don’t really need but buy anyway just because it seems one of those “too good to miss” deals?

Value Laptops

I guess looking for cheap laptops is just the same as looking for a cheap washing machine, cheap kettle or cheap toaster… the key to it all is your interpretation of the word cheap. I could go to a well known supermarket and buy a kettle for around £6, most likely nicely packaged in a blue and white stripey box, and there would be no denying that I had bought myself a cheap kettle. Would I expect it to work as well as a £30 kettle? Well yes, I guess I would although I would expect it to take a little longer to boil, or perhaps be a little smaller. Would I expect it to last for years? Probably not.

So that’s one approach to cheap… if I buy cheap, I lower my expectations. Yes, I am looking for a cheap laptop, but no I wouldn’t be tempted by a stack of cheap laptops in their blue and white stripey value boxes. I would be looking for the flaw, the reason why the laptop in front of me is oh so cheap. I would expect it to be slow, noisey and would always be waiting for something to go wrong.

Too Good to be True?

So what about special offers? To be honest I can be pretty wary of those too. Think about it, if you saw a Dell laptop adorned with a “buy one get one free” sticker would you be tempted? REALLY?! Have you never heard that if something sounds too good to be true then it generally is?


The Real Deal

I think that actually yes, it is possible to find cheap laptops. The key to it isn’t looking for the “pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” deals, nor the value range of products. The way to find a cheap laptop is to research. Yes it may be time consuming, but the end result will be that you find your perfect product.

Start by seeking out your dream laptop, regardless of price, that can cope with all your requirements and make a note of its specification. Keep it realistic – if you are looking for a home laptop, then don’t waste time looking at models designed for business use. If you are looking for a gaming laptop, then stop researching the basic models that will only let you down!

Armed with your list of specs, its time to start shopping around. Start by comparing the brands you’ve heard of, and then seek out some you haven’t. Read the reviews! Reputable companies will not show only the good, but also the not so good to give you an honest opinion of whether the product is right for you or not.

It may take a couple of hours, it may take more – but at the end of it you will have found your perfect laptop and could’ve saved yourself hundreds of pounds. That, to me, is a cheap laptop.

When it comes to finding cheap deals, the author of this post doesn’t believe in ‘value’ goods, nor ‘too good to be true’ bargains. She believes in finding quality products at honest prices. When it comes to finding cheap laptops, she believes Novatech offer great specs and very competitive prices.

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vectorportal/5033315755/

British Broadband Crisis


Broadband crisis in UK
 According to a recent study, Brits are far from happy with their broadband speeds. Expressing disapointment seems to be the general trend when it comes to our nation’s internet speeds and exaggerated broadband speed claims from suppliers have simply fueled frustration.

False Claims

It was made very clear within the past year that Britain’s broadband speeds trailed behind other – some even less developed – countries’ – However, it was reiterated by our main suppliers and the government that this would be set to change, significantly for the better. Their intention and passionate claims eased our worries and alleged our concerns.

The allocation of funding set aside for Britain’s broadband troubles were labelled to be depressing by experts, but as most of us simply have no great way of understanding how much was needed to restore Britain to the top of the broadband speed chart, we blindly followed the Chancellor, placing our faith in his judgement.

We also knew of the problems with broadband speeds in rural areas; yet, programmes led by BT assured us that such issues were being dealt with.

Crisis?

Slowly however, we come to realise that this isn’t the case. That even while countries such as France currently boast faster speeds, they’re still doing more than us to up their broadband; that the ever necessary move from copper cables to fibre-optic connections are not being considered by our main supplier (BT) or the government – despite numerous countries around the world recognising its power; and that, most worryingly, internet providers and the government lack the incentive to work together and fix this terrible issue. In fact, I refuse to take heed of any British broadband offers that aren’t based on fibre-optic connections (Virgin it is then!).

A fast broadband is crucial for businesses and subsequently our economy, education, simple day to day activities and crucial entertainment purposes. On top of all this, the necessity of superfast broadband will increase over the coming years as household appliances will be connected to the internet. This means that almost everything we do will rely on the internet and with our country currently lacking behind Estonia and Turkey in regards to broadband speeds, something must change – quickly!

The nationwide implementation of fibre-optic cable telecommunications facilities will need major financial backing and lots of challenging work. However, it isn’t beyond our capability.

The problem is a crisis and the sooner we start treating it like one, the better.

Michael Davies is a British freelance writer

How a Simple Typo Could Compromise Your Internet Security

Have you ever been in a rush when typing into the address bar of your browser and accidently entered “Facbook.com” or “Fcebook.com” when you mean to access the famous social media site?

It is a very easy mistake to make and many people make typos when trying to access popular websites. However, there are malicious people out there on the internet who have found a way to take advantage of these accidental typos. It is a practice known as typo-squatting and could be a threat to your internet security.

If you are not aware of typo-squatting it is very important to know what it is and how you can avoid falling victim to it.

What is Typo-Squatting?

In order to take advantage of the clumsy fingers of the average internet user, these scammers register all of the common misspellings of popular website domain names. Sometimes these people are simply trying to make money from the traffic to the website through their advertisements, making the only victim the company they are impersonating.

However, sometimes the intent of these websites is much more dubious. The hackers create websites which resemble the real website enough to trick people into entering their personal information. For example, the website might claim that you have won a prize and you need to enter your username, password, address and credit card details in order to claim the prize. Once this information is entered then the hackers can use it to steal your identity and access your private accounts.

These websites can also trick users into downloading malicious “Trojan Horse” software which will compromise the security of your computer and allow the hackers to access your personal files. From this point, they can infect your computer with more malware and even use it for their own illegal purposes. Once these hackers have access to your computer and your personal information it is very difficult to get rid of them and to restore your internet security.

The best strategy is to avoid typo-squatters all together, so here are some helpful tips:

How to Avoid Typo-Squatters

Visiting one of these false websites can be very dangerous for your internet security, so it is important to avoid typo-squatters in every way that you can. First of all, be very careful about what you are typing into the address bar when you are accessing a website. Read it over two or three times to make sure that it is spelled correctly and that you have the right suffix such as .org or .com, etc.

If you do end up on a website which looks suspicious in any way (such as with many pop-up ads or a different looking interface) check it closely before entering any of your personal information, especially your credit card or bank details.

If you are not sure, use a search engine to find the site you are looking for instead. When you type in the institution on Google, Yahoo or Bing they will come up with the legitimate address and the search engine will also have scanned the site for malware to prevent hacking.

Once you have found the right website and you are absolutely certain it is legitimate, you can bookmark it on your browser so that you ensure that you return to the same one every time.

It is also important to have a legitimate and comprehensive anti-virus and internet security program installed on your computer. It will protect you from these sorts of phishing attempts and many malware, spyware or viruses your computer might download.

Mistyping an address into your browser could be a lot more dangerous than you might think! Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from typo-squatters, such as using McAfee total protection.

Mobile Apps for the Discriminating Palate – or the Ordinary one

When you’re on the go or  not in the mood to cook, finding a good meal may be difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with the location in which you are trying to find a restaurant. Luckily, there are several smartphone applications designed to point out the best eateries in the area. From comfort food to fine dining, these programs are sure to satisfy your palate.

LocalEats

LocalEats lists the top 100 restaurants in dozens of cities across the United States and provides menus for most of them. You can even make reservations or call for a taxi to ferry you to your destination within the application. This app is available for free on Android devices, but costs $0.99 for Apple customers and $2.99 for Blackberry users.

Urbanspoon

Urbanspoon is a popular and free dining app that lets you shake your way to a delicious meal if you are unsure what you’d like to eat. Urbanspoon allows you to independently select cuisine type and price, so you are able to find just what you are craving. Urbanspoon has GPS integration that maps your destination with Google Maps, so you can easily navigate to your next meal. You can read reviews from other Urbanspoon users and make reservations with your Apple or Android or Blackberry smartphone, as well.

BiteHunter

If you crave a deal with your meal, BiteHunter is the app for you. More than 50,000 restaurant deals from across the nation are displayed in real time, along with reviews, photographs and menus from many of the restaurants featured. Additionally, BiteHunter links directly to your Groupon account, allowing you to purchase offers from the site from within the app. BiteHunter is available exclusively for Apple users and is completely free.

Chef’s Feed

Have you ever wondered where world-class chefs eat? Find the gourmet hot spots in nine major cities across the United States. More than 295 chefs, including Mario Batali and Wolfgang Puck, weigh in with their favorite restaurants, and their favorite dishes, from five-star fare to diner delicacies. The app is free for both Apple and Android smartphone users.

VegOut

If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, chances are you know someone who is. Sometimes, finding a place where you can share a meal with your herbivore pals can be difficult. With this app, it’s easy to locate a nearby restaurant that caters to either diet. The mobile application ranges in price across platforms, but it is available to Apple, Android, Windows, Symbiam and Palm Pre smartphone customers.

Tipulator

Once you’ve found and enjoyed your meal, let your mobile phone help you calculate your tip. Tipulator takes the sometimes-difficult calculation out of tipping by allowing you to select the percentage you wish to tip and providing you with a prompt figure. You can round up or down with the app, and it also allows you to figure out totals for splitting checks between friends. Tipulator is available in the Android Play Store for free, but Apple users must pay $0.99 to access the software.

Jaye Ryan is a freelance writer who loves food, restaurants and mobile phone apps and writing about them for MobilePhones.org.uk.

Things to Look for in a Mobile Application

The mobile application development market is constantly growing and improving.  With every passing moment, another developer is building a mobile application to be used by millions on the current arsenal of smartphone platforms.  As more companies dip their feet into the water, many are discovering the benefits of today’s computer technologies.  Businesses from all sectors are thus left wondering what the next big technological advancement will bring to the mobile application development industry.

The number of smartphone users is increasing faster than the staggering number of apps that hit the mobile market.  Worldwide, that number is fast approaching one billion.  The average smartphone features 23 applications, with many users adding to that list on a daily basis.  The demand for custom mobile apps is greater than ever before, as is the demand for the mobile application development services that design and develop them.

Successful applications have one particular thing in common – they are unique.  Still, it’s easy to see how despite a massive mobile market that so many mobile apps are able to find and maintain a certain level of uniqueness.  Mostly, this is because the options to choose from in today’s mobile app development industry are just as great.  When it comes to mobile games and programs that use, manipulate, save and send data received by the peripherals built-in to a mobile device, the possibilities are literally endless.

With so much to consider, what should a person look for in a mobile app?

To start, the app should be smooth with an unnoticeable transition from one section to another.  Features are important, but mobile apps should still be as light as possible.  A fine line exists between powerful features and keeping the mobile app light.  A developer’s job is to tread carefully along that line. Bulky apps that boast too many features often take away from the overall user experience.

On the contrary, the mobile app should be straight-forward, easy to use and not cluttered by thousands of useless features or options.  Clutter tends to make mobile applications more difficult to use as many operate on a small touch screen.

Most people would agree that taking a full-blown version of Photoshop on the road through a mobile device would be something worth trying.  The problem with a scenario like this is that most users would not be able to work with such a feature-rich application on a smartphone.  An app that can do basic manipulating and conversions to prepare files for editing on a large computer would be a much better suited app for a device like a smartphone.

Mobile apps today mostly cater to audio, video, imaging, organizational and games.  Most mobile devices have excellent built-in media players that accommodate audio and video files, although simple apps can make these popular features even better.

The most important element to mobile applications is a useful and beneficial design.  We can’t put every single feature into a mobile application that we wish to include.  We can, however, design apps in a manner which allows us to manipulate files and later export them to a proper computer app for the complete job.

Mobile games are different than most other apps as we don’t use them to manipulate files.  Mostly, games serve the purpose of entertainment and wasting time.  For mobile games, a successful app is generally lightweight, addictive and fun but without skimping on graphics.

Akehs Gupta is President of Light Speed Solutions.  Light Speed Solutions is a custom software development company specializing in mobile application development services.

Top 4 Tips to Stop Your Laptop Overheating

It is amazing the number of people I visit that have problems with laptops overheating. We put them on beds we put them on sofas, on a cushion, on our knees, in our bags and expect the laptop to continue functioning to its best even though we give them a rough time.

I must visit 2 or 3 people every single week that are having problems with their laptop that I can trace back to overheating. I have even had a number of customer’s says they have found marks on cushions or bedding where the laptop has been or have smelt a burning smell and never thought it could be their laptop.

Signs something is heating up!

  1. Any type of burning smells coming from the laptop are obviously a sign something is not quite right
  2. Are there marks under the laptop such as on cushions, bedding, even on grass
  3. A laptop tends to shut down when it gets too hot to protect itself.
  4. You are also likely to notice your computer running very slow as it struggles to cope with even the most basic tasks
  5. Blue screens can also appear when overheating quickly followed by an automatic reboot.

Oh no it’s overheating – what can I do?

Don’t put the laptop of soft furnishings

The first thing people fail to realise is that a lot of the vents on a laptop are underneath the laptop and therefore the laptop does need to be raised slightly hence the stubby little legs on most laptops.

When a laptop is rested on some soft furnishing such as a cushion, a sofa or on top of your bed you are effectively stopping the laptop from breathing. The fans bring air in to cool down the inside of the laptop and then blow the hot air out of the vent on the side. If the vents are covered then it cannot get the cold air in and eventually gets too hot. Resting it on soft furnishing can also be a fire hazard so it is highly recommended you don’t rest it on ANY soft furnishing.

Use a tray or a solid surface

We have some cheap £3 trays scattered around our house that we rest our laptops on. This means we don’t have to put the laptop on soft furnishings and it allows the laptop to be raised and breath. It also makes it easier to hold to be honest and with a big enough tray you can even get a mouse on there too should you need one.

Clean out the fans and vents regularly

This is something I personal do on a monthly basis and if you ever use you laptop on soft furnishings (a big no no see point 1) then I would recommend you do it more often.

Laptop fans and heat sinks pick up an awful lot of dust, pet hair, pretty much anything. I was once surprised to find upon opening a laptop that was overheating a 2cm piece of biscuit blocking the fan!! If you have kids you will know they will shove their food anywhere including in your computer.

Pick up a can of compressed air (You can buy these almost anywhere including amazon) and spray it into all the vents on your laptop. Try to spray so the dust comes out of another vent. Pay particular attention to the heat sink area (metal bit on the side generally)

Use a cooling pad for your laptop

These are relatively cheap (type laptop cooling into Google or amazon). These are basically a device that your laptop sits on that has fans attached to the bottom to cool your laptop and get rid of heat quickly. They also have the added advantage of slightly raising your laptop to make it easier to use.

Author Bio

Craig is a computer repair technician and author of www.computerlearnhow.com offering a variety of advice, tutorials and general help such as his recent post is your computer running very slow.

11 Ways Your Smartphone is Going to Replace All Your Stuff

It’s no secret that the modern smartphone is a remarkably versatile device. Prior to their widespread availability, we needed a plethora of gadgets and devices to take care of all our technological needs, such as email, internet access, and so on. The smartphone has changed all this forever, but it doesn’t stop there! Here’s a list of twelve everyday objects that you can now replace with your phone.

1. Remote Controls

As far as we’re concerned, this is one of the coolest reasons to own a smartphone. If you’re willing to get a bit technical and do some setting up, you can rig your phone as a remote control for just about anything. There are apps available that allow your phone to interface with a wide variety of media players on your computer, and you can even set up your phone’s touchscreen to function as a remote touchpad and keyboard for your computer. Plug your laptop into a big screen TV via HDMI then browse effortlessly from the comfort of your sofa!

2. Flashlight

Flashlights are big and bulky, far too much so to carry around with you at all times. However, they’re also incredibly useful. This is where your phone steps in! Since most phones today have a camera with a flash, all you need to do is turn on the light and you’ve got illumination for whatever you need. Trying to find your keys behind the sofa? Can’t see the fuse box to get the lights back on? Your phone to the rescue!

3. Mobile Storage

Most smartphones now come packed with at least 2 gig of memory. Remember when 2 GB of memory was impressive for desktop computers? On top of that, today you can buy replacement SD cards with huge amounts of space for tiny price tags, turning your phone into an indispensable storage device capable of holding music, films, important documents and whatever else you need.

4. Light Switches

Remote control light switches may not be new, but controlling them with your phone is a fairly recent invention. Setting this up will take a bit of time, and you’ll need some equipment to do it, but since you have your phone on you at all times, controlling your lights from anywhere in the house will become simpler than ever. Plus you get to feel like you live in the future!

5. Car Keys

Push to start is a convenient feature of modern cars, but now your phone is capable of displacing your key fob. With the right technology, you can connect your phone to your car’s management system and lock or unlock the doors, turn on the alarm, sound the horn and whatever else you might need. Perfect for those times when you just can’t remember whether or not you rolled up your window!

6. Wi-Fi Router

Want to get online with your laptop in the middle of nowhere? Just pull out your phone, connect an aerial and it’ll use its own 3G connection to project a wireless hotspot for you to use. It might not be the fastest or most reliable, but it’ll get you through some sticky situations when you absolutely need a net connection!

7. Projector

There are a few phones that come with a projector installed and accessories that will accomplish the same. With clear picture up to 55”, that is a pretty impressive mobile display.

8. Face-to-Face Encounters

Though it’s very much in its infancy at the moment, phone based video conferencing is on the rise. With the likes of Skype, Tango, iVisit and others available, you don’t even need to be in the same room as your friends and business associates any more!

9. Television

More and more video content providers are turning up with their own mobile apps. Sky, BBC, and Netflix, amongst others, make content available for streaming straight to your phone. Why bother with a TV any more?

10. Camera

We know this is an obvious one, but it’s true! A few years ago, every phone had a camera, but few were up to much. Today’s cutting edge models come with some impressive camera technology. Unless you’re something of a photography enthusiast who demands the highest possible quality, phone cameras today are capable of taking some pretty great photos.

11. Your Wallet

So many small businesses only accept cash and lose out on valuable business. With the square and PayPal’s phone accessory, you can accept debit cards anywhere you have access to the internet on your smart-phone. On top of that, Google is now pushing its own ‘Google Wallet’ feature, which allows you to pay for goods at participating vendors with just the touch of a button.

If you want to get the most out of your phone, find the best data plan with a comparison from BroadbandChoices.co.uk.

Protect Your Personal Data on Your PC

We are constantly worried about the kind of safety and security of our lives. We change our home alarm systems, install some of the latest motion sensing lights and cameras to prevent unnecessary action, and buy the kind of cars that could withstand a hail of bullets. However, we tend to be a lot more careless when it comes to picking the security features that we want for our computers.

We use our computers for two main reasons – the first is to access the Internet, do our work, play games, watch videos, download movies and so on. The other, is for storing away our personal information safely. It is a natural tendency to believe that because something is not physically outside or kept out in the open, it is safer than something that is. However, with the kind of credit card, social security, passport, bank and personal information that we keep on our computers, we stand to lose quite a bit when it comes to data theft.

Put Things Away

One of the most important ways of keeping your possessions safe is to hide them. In your home, you don’t have money lying around all over the place, and jewelry isn’t just strewn about either. So why would you put your electronic treasures into a disorganized pile and leave it lying around your computer? Despite owning the best security system on the planet, you would still put your valuables inside and that is the same kind of thinking that you need to use on your computer.

Lock up your data with the assumption that anyone, at some point of time, can come in to take a peek into your terminal, steal something that belongs to you and leaves you footing a bill for a little boat that’s taking him out to the beautiful Greek Isles. Financial documents, on Excel sheets, can be saved with a password to protect them, as is the case with Word, PDF files and even PowerPoint presentations. Basically, any kind of software that gives you the ability to encrypt your document, must be put to complete use. Use something like the identity finder to locate any user-specific, or personal, data that you might have on your computer. It will help you track it down and put them under lock and key – the only way to add more security levels on your computer.

Don’t Recycle

If you are looking to delete items from your computer, which basically means that you have no use for them, then why use the recycle bin? Think about it – do you throw cheques, with mistakes, into the trash can like they are? No, you tear them up so that no one can use them. At work, do you dispose official documents off by throwing them into a bin? No, you pass them through a shredder that eats them up. Then why should your computer be any different?

When you delete a file on any operating system, it takes the file to the recycle bin (in Windows) or any other similar software that works as a trash bin. The concept they are using is that when you use the trash bin at your home, you empty it out later. However, we don’t always remember to do that, on the computer, because there are a lot more distractions and unlike physical trash, this kind doesn’t smell. Data that, otherwise, would be thrown away, lingers on in our computers and gives others an opportunity to take it away.

There are many software out there that can do this part for you, shredding away your files safely and not leaving behind any traces for those forensic data-thieves to steal. Some of these software overwrite data before sending it for deletion, and that overwrite-count can go up to 30 even. Once is enough to make them irrecoverable forever!

Encryption

Think of it like a car alarm! If your car has an alarm, then the thief will take longer to break-in than in a car without the alarm. Similarly, a car with an alarm and a steering lock would take even longer to break into while something that has a gear lock as well, would take further still. Basically, the more protection you have in place, the harder it gets for your car to get stolen. Trojans, that grab data on your computer, are quite similar in nature.

They will grab what’s available freely and if you aren’t being targeted directly, then even the most basic encryption will cause a lot of heartache for the helpless Trojan. Encrypt the file into a zipped format and remove the original from your computer, if you really need to keep the information i.e.

Whether you are running a business or simply using your computer for personal reasons, there are lots of things on it, at any given point of time, that are precious for your daily life. You need to safeguard these things to ensure that you aren’t the victim of the next massive online credit card fraud.

Trevor Patrick – author

When you think of computers and the computer support services’ industry, the name of Trevor Patrick is almost unavoidable. Having started a small firm with a small service, of ensuring your computer’s security, Trevor eventually created a monster that became the life and blood of computer users all over Australia and New Zealand. His word became gold and his services were beyond par! That until he decided to sell off his company and take to farming and an early retirement in the countryside. Trevor still writes on computer-related subjects today, although more for the love of the game, than for the money.

A Qualified Computer Repair Technician Can Save You Time and Money


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Almost everybody today depends on their computer for most aspects of their lives. From contacts, to communication to important documents and even multimedia files and photos; almost everybody needs their computer and they need it to be running in tip top shape. So what should people do if their computer crashes or they download malicious programs onto their computer? Should they simply perform a cleaning task on the computer or run an antivirus application? They can, but the remnants of the virus will linger in the system until it is professionally cleaned. When dealing with an issue such as this, consumers need to be well aware of how much money and data can be saved from just going through a qualified computer technician fix all of the repairs on the computer. This way, it is fixed the first time without any more disruption to your computer system.

Save Money in More Than One Way

There is more than one way to save your hard earned money when you use the services of a qualified computer technician when your computer crashes. The most obvious way is simply to save your computer. The qualified technician will save your computer as a whole, preventing you from purchasing a whole new computer. When a computer downloads any type of malware program, spyware or any other harmful program, it will slow the entire system down, giving the user the false assumption that the computer is simply worn out and needs to be replaced. When you utilize the services of a qualified computer technician, you will be able to save your computer. They know how to make your computer like new again, they can take off the damaging programs and they can also increase the speed of the computer, making it run like it did when it first came out of the box.

Keep Your Personal Information Personal

One of the biggest fears of consumers today is identity theft. Identity theft can occur when hackers gain access to your personal information and use it to obtain loans, credit and rack up bills. One way that these hackers gain this information is to install malware programs on your computer that will give them the information about you that they want. With this type of program on your computer, they can get your passwords, your name, social security number and even your credit card and bank account numbers. With this information, the hackers can use it to gain access to your credit and your money. When you go through a qualified computer technician, you can rest assured that they are fully aware and trained on all of the latest advances in malware and how to eliminate the risk of identity theft.

Brian Lawson is a computer and IT security expert.  His company, Datadrive has been providing PC repair Tucson based service for more than 20 years.  He and his team of expert technicians can help with any Tucson PC repair challenge.

The iPad Makes its Mark

In the Beginning…

Mobile computing in the form of tablet computers, is making its mark in the 21st Century. The iPad, developed and designed by Apple Inc., is at the forefront of this technological movement. The iPad descended on the unsuspecting general population in April 2010 and promptly sold 14.8 million units worldwide, by the end of that same year.


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What Makes the iPad so Special?

The iPad’s main focus is that of an audio-visual outlet for web browsing, book reading, movie watching, and game playing amongst other multi-media activities – which it has in common with the majority of tablet PCs on the market. However it initially differed greatly from its competitors, in that it employed a multi-touch display, like the iPhone, whilst its competitors were still using a stylus method, for the most part. It also boasted an onscreen keyboard instead of a bulky physical one. Talk about improved portability!

The Specifics

The product is extremely user-friendly. It is produced in Wi-Fi and cellular models, allowing the user to access online services via local are networks as well as via the Internet.

The touchscreen display provides greater versatility and incorporates fingerprint and scratch-resistant technology found in the iPhone. The in-house applications, pre-installed on the iPad, support all four orientations, which is handy when picking up the tablet upside-down.

The built-in camera, introduced on the later models, is of low quality for still-pictures and there are two, one front facing and one rear facing. However the cameras can interface with iPhone 4 and other communication gadgets for video messaging.

It comes with Bluetooth technology that enables the user to pair wireless headphones and keyboards to the device.

iPad – Generation I

Launched in April 2010, this revolutionary computer product took the Apple community and worldwide PC world by storm. It came with the iOS 3.2 operating system in a 9.7inch display screen. With a 1GHz processor and 256MB of memory, it perfectly bridged the gap between mobile phones and personal computers. This initial model was only available in black.

IPad 2 – Generation II

Released in March 2011 and referred to simply as iPad 2, the second-generation tablet PC has a vastly improved operating system, the iOS 4.3. This model was re-invented to include a frequency of 250MHz and 512MB of RAM memory. It underwent a bit of redesign on the outside, reducing its depth to 8.8mm as opposed to 13.4mm on the original iPad. It also had the honor of being offered in a white bezel color or its original black.

IPad 3 – Generation III

The current reincarnation of the iPad was unveiled on March 16, 2012. Its design on the outside was as sleek and novel as the iPad 2. However the display screen resolution was upped to 2048×1536 pixels, in order match the demand for quality viewing. The processor was given a hefty upgrade to the dual-core Apple A5X processor. In order to keep in line with all of the improvements the memory was doubled from 512MB in the iPad 2, to 1GB (gigabyte). It also came with the operating system iOS 5.1 as standard.

How iPad is Taking Over the World

 

The iPad is poised to replace other computer products, like the laptop PC, and has been recognized as one of the “50 Best Inventions in 2010” by Time Magazine.

It has even started to make its mark on the corporate business world. Many legal firms and doctor’s offices use the product to collate and communicate information away from the desk or office. The FAA recently allowed the iPad to be used in airplane cockpits in an attempt to cut down on paper consumption. The airline industry has been quick to avail itself of this tool, not only in the cockpit but also in the cabins, where passengers can access the inflight media via a iPad application.

iBook is an iPad application that gives the user the ability to download books from the iBookstore. Other media outlets, such as newspapers have quickly seized the opportunity to produce a daily publication specifically for iPad users.

Is There Room for an Improved iPad 4?

The iPad 3 has barely hit the shelves and Apple iPad enthusiasts are hankering after a new and improved iPad 4. Some complaints concerning the most recent offering range from, “still to bulky and cumbersome” to a need for more storage, If the Apple dynasty and Steve Jobs’ legacy are anything to go by, iPad devotees are assured nothing short of the best.

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Benefits of a Wired Home

By creating a wired home for yourself, you will essentially be implementing some new technology such as routers, switches, and hubs. Don’t know what any of these mean or how they work? Let’s take a look at these and other pieces of wired equipment.

Hubs

A hub is specifically designed to join multiple computers or devices together, but can only allow a single device on its network to communicate at a time. Hubs can be utilized for file sharing and connecting to other devices, whether you are equipped with internet capabilities or not. When you are running Windows, Mac, or Linux, a hub supports any computer running any operating system. The speed of these hubs depends entirely on the network they support.

Typical hubs today commonly support 100 Mbps. These hubs are equipped with what are known as Ethernet ports, for use with connecting other devices to the hub. Most hubs contain between 4 and 5 ports.

To install a hub to a group of networked computers, you must connect one end of an Ethernet cable to the hub and the other end to the device. It’s an extremely simple process. However, because of advanced performance benefits, most home networks today utilize network switches instead of hubs, which we will look at next.

Switches

A local switch is similar to a hub in that it can join multiple computers or devices together, but with a switch, all devices are joined on a local-area-network (LAN) and switches have many more capabilities than a typical hub.

For instance, local switches can receive and look at data packets to determine where the packet is coming from and where it is going. By sending these packets to the connected device only, network bandwidth is conserved, which is a huge advantage over a hub. Most network switches can typically support either 10/100 Mbps Ethernet or the much faster 1 Gbps Ethernet.

Similar to hubs, network switches vary in terms of how many devices that they can connect, but the standard is normally between four and eight.

Routers

A router is the most efficient and widely-used piece of equipment used in homes today. A router is used to join two computer networks together with variations including broadband, DSL, and cable modem routers.

Most homes normally use an IP (Internet Protocol) wired router. This type of router connects the home’s LAN to the wide-area network (WAN) of the internet. Certain routers can also monitor and filter the traffic received, based on the IP address being used, meaning that you can throttle the speed of certain websites. A broadband router, one of the types described above, is widely used in homes because of its features and functionality.

A broadband router combines a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server with a firewall and a network switch and is typically used with DSL internet or a high-speed cable modem. To use a broadband router, Ethernet cables must be run from the router to the modem and from the modem to the computer. Broadband routers are a great option for LAN gaming, a home office, file sharing, and surfing the web.

Benefits

There are plenty of benefits to installed wired networking in your home. For one thing, it is very cheap to setup and maintain, as routers, switches, and hubs are inexpensive. Wired networks are also extremely reliable because unlike wireless, you hardly have to worry about a loss of connection, unless something happens with your ISP’s (Internet Service Provider’s) network. Wired networks also offer significant performance, ranging from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps and the only major difference is the cost you will pay for the speed.

Regardless of which type of technology you decide to utilize to create a wired home for yourself, they are extremely easy, inexpensive to set up, and provide significant benefits. Routers, although the most expensive out of the three, aren’t very pricey at all and offer a fast connection and security precautions to ensure that you are always safe when using the network. Wired networks are a great route to go!

Phillip Reese has worked in information technology for over a decade. His home office, where he markets products ranging from cisco memory to microwave radios, utilizes switches, routers and CAT6 cables to keep the data flowing.

Tips for Storing Computer and Electronic Equipment

At some point, many people need to store their computer or electronic equipment for an extended period of time. Although it takes a bit more care than simply shoving the equipment into a box and sticking it on a shelf somewhere, all it takes is a little time and effort to ensure maximum protection with a minimum of preparation.


Cleaning

Prior to storing the equipment, it needs a thorough cleaning. This includes a dusting of the outer casing, as well as using compressed air to blow out any dirt or particle buildup within the equipment. Special care should be taken to ensure that any air vents are free of as much debris as possible.

Batteries

If there are any batteries in the equipment, they need to be removed. Batteries can often corrode and leak chemicals onto electrical connections.

Cables

Remove any and all cables. This helps to make sure they aren’t accidentally jerked out of their connections at any point. The cables should be neatly rolled up and taped together. It is usually a good idea to note which connections the cables came from. It makes it easier to set things up again, should the equipment be taken out of storage and set up once again.

Wrapping

Before putting the equipment into the box, it should be wrapped up in a cotton sheet. This prevents any dirt or dust from getting into the equipment. Ideally, the equipment should be packed up in the original box, but if that is not available, it is best to have a box that keeps the equipment snug without providing too much excess room.

Labeling

Each box should be labeled clearly. Since some individuals do not want third parties to know what is in each box, a code can be created. For example, a computer monitor in a box might be listed as “CM,” with the key to the code being kept in a separate location.

Storage Units

In many cases, the best way to store computer or electronic equipment is in a business storage unit. Most business storage facilities offer 24-hour surveillance security, as well as climate-controlled units. This is extremely important in areas where the temperatures can either get too hot or too cold.

In the end, most people find that taking a little bit of time and extra care will ensure that the equipment remains in the best possible condition. A little time at the outset of the storage process can save both time and money down the line.

Image by Seth Tissue and licensed through Creative Commons.

Paul Benjamin is a District Manager at EZ Storage, a storage company providing clean and secure self storage in Elkins Park, MI. Learn More about amenities, leasing options and current promotions at the Elkins Park Storage Units at EZMini.com today.

Four of the Best Laptop Innovations

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We all know the biggest trend for computers at the moment is the new kid on the block, the tablet PC.

Yes, tablets are great, but they’ve somewhat overshadowed some great new laptop innovations that have really come into their own in the last couple of years.

Besides, sometimes you just need a good, old fashioned keyboard on your computer.

So if you’re in the market for a new PC, here is a rundown of the latest and greatest laptops and the ideas they put into play.

HP Envy Beats Edition

For those of us who consider music to be an essential part of life, the Beats edition of the HP Envy laptop provides, more or less, the best sound you can get from a notebook.

The sound card is strategically located in the chassis so there’s virtually no sound degradation, and there’s no distortion on the bass, even when the volume’s up. And the volume on this goes loud – just 25% is sufficiently noisy enough for my ears.

This laptop also comes with a set of specialist headphones that retail for £150, and using these clarifies the sound even further. The perfect laptop for a budding DJ.

Toshiba Qosmio X770

If you’re a gamer, you need to have this laptop.

It’s been designed specifically for those of us who are a little more than addicted to games, whether it be The Sims 3 or Battlefield. It has super-powerful processing; rapid response time, and gets this…its 3D.

There are so many games now 3D ready, it’d be crazy not to make use of this amazing innovation. But don’t panic if you favourite game isn’t 3D ready– the Qosmio is so clever that it actually converts most games into 3D. With that and a graphics system that is virtually flawless, and a HD screen, why wouldn’t you buy this (well, if you can afford £1500)?

MacBook Air

If you’re looking for blisteringly fast performance and a laptop that’s great for carting around, then the MacBook Air might just be the PC for you (if you can spare a grand).

Unlike previous models, the latest one can actually justify the price tag with something other than a brand name; the processing power is good. Like, really good. And Mac has managed to cram it all into this sleek, featherweight body which makes it perfect for the creatives, whether you’re a graphic arts student or an architect.

Acer 1825PT

If you really, really can’t get tablet PCs out of your head (shame on you) then this nifty little Acer gives you the best of both worlds.

From the outside this laptop looks just like a regular netbook, but the screen holds a dirty little secret – you can twist it 180 degrees, flip it back down again and low and behold, you have a tablet.

The touch screen on this works amazingly well, and is great if your job requires you to be creative. It also has 8 hours of battery life in its compact body, which is pretty darn good for a laptop.

So there you have it…the best laptop for music, the best for gaming, the best for creatives and the best tablet with keyboard included.

Sometimes I think that great innovations can be mistaken for gimmicks, and gimmicks can be mistaken for great innovations. Obviously, if you’re not a fan of music, a laptop priced £400 more than the range’s base version for its flawless sound will seem like a waste of money to you.

But if you really whittle down what you need the laptop for, and then search around for your new PC, then you really can find some simply amazing advances.

What laptop are you using? Or what laptop do you have your eye on, which you think is truly amazing? Let us know!

Jasmine Ayres writes for Arc IT, one of the top computer support companies in the UK. Arc IT maintain laptops and desktops, as well as offering server support and a hosted exchange server.

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