Updates from September, 2016 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:52 am on September 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Houseparty, Meerkat,   

    Is Houseparty an app that parents need to be aware of? 

    Is Houseparty an app that parents need to be aware of?

    You remember Meerkat don’t you? It was the livestreaming app that everyone used for a day before Periscope came along and ate its lunch. Now from the makers of Meerkat comes an app called Houseparty that allows its users to engage in video group chats on their Android or iOS devices. Like most of these type of apps, it’s geared towards teens, so should parents be concerned about the app? Maybe.

    Houseparty is generally used for a group of friends to have group chats with and is intended to be more private than a livestream. In order to join a chat a user needs to know the other users’ phone number or username. That seems to limit the ability of random people to join in the chats. The app itself seems pretty innocuous, however with most social apps parents should be aware but not over-reactionary.

    While Houseparty seems to have its act together when it comes to security of its users it only takes one bad apple to start the abuse of the app. Since the group chats depend on who is hosting the chat, friends of friends can join the chat of the host allows. It’s those friends of friends that could be a predators way in to a conversation with your child.

    So as is with most apps Houseparty is just a tool that’s used to communicate in this social and digital era. It’s up to parents to make sure that the tool isn’t being used the wrong way against your children.

  • Geebo 10:05 am on September 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blackberry,   

    Blackberry announces they’re no longer making phones 

    Blackberry announces they're no longer making phones

    To answer your first question, yes, Blackberry was still making phones until recently.

    Anyway, in a story that’s reminiscent of MySpace’s virtual defeat at the hands of Facebook, the once mighty Blackberry has announced that they will stop making their signature phones. At one time Blackberry ruled the cell phone landscape. Not only was it the cell phone of choice for most companies but it also had a devoted consumer market as well. The practice of people being face down into their obsessive device started with the Blackberry, hence the nickname it received at the time, the Crackberry.

    Then in 2007 an event happened that started the death knell for the Blackberry. That event was the release of Apple’s iPhone. Instead of having a physical keyboard and a mouse-like roller ball, the iPhone had a fully interactive touch screen with a virtual keyboard to provide more screen space than the Blackberry ever had. It also didn’t help that Google came out with its own smartphone operating system called Anndroid. While the iPhone was aimed at more affluent users, Android allowed most everyone to have access to a smartphone. Whatever edge Blackberry had soon eroded to the point of it being a punchline in jokes. People would say “Remember Blackberry?” before laughing derisively then returning to their iPhones or Smasung Galaxies.

    That’s not to say that Blackberry didn’t have its hardcore base of fans. There have been many reports of the Blackberry faithful buying multiple devices and keeping the spares in their freezer when the financial writing was on the wall. It remains to be seen how long those devices will be supported now that Blackberry will focus mostly on software.

  • Geebo 11:59 am on September 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brad Pitt, , ,   

    The rumors of Brad Pitt’s death have been greatly exaggerated, but the news of it will infect your device 

    The rumors of Brad Pitt's death have been greatly exaggerated, but the news of it will infect your device

    Whether you wanted to know it or not, you’ve no doubt probably heard the news of Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting divorced. The power couple, nicknamed Brangelina, are calling it quits after an 11-year-relationship, two of which they were married. Facebook news feeds filled up with links announcing the split, usually followed by people saying they don’t care while posting the link.

    However, even this minor news story has brought some hoaxsters out in full force. In your Facebook news feed you may see a story that claims Brad Pitt has committed suicide in the wake of his recent talks of divorce. Not only is the story not true, the link is disguised as a Fox News link to send you to a hoax page. (Insert your own joke about Fox News and hoax page here.) The fake page is designed not only to get your Facebook details but to also inject malware into your device.

    If your Windows computer does become compromised with malware many tech experts recommend downloading anti-malware protection. Malware Bytes is one of the most trusted anti-malware tools in the industry. If you have been infected by malware, ,start your computer in safe mode by pressing the F8 key while your machine boots up. Then run your anti-malware program to clean out your system.

    To modernize an older quote, don’t believe everything you see and only half of what’s posted on Facebook.

  • Geebo 9:55 am on September 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Palantir,   

    Company founded by Peter Thiel sued for discrimination 

    Company founded by Peter Thiel sued for discrimination

    In what some may call a bit of irony, a company co-founded by Peter Thiel is being sued by the US Department of Labor over discrimination allegations. Security company Palantir is being accused of allegedly discriminating against Asian applicants. The lawsuit claims that Palantir routinely denied Asian applicants either at the resume stage or after phone interviews.

    Palantir is no mere tech start-up either. They specialize in tracking down terrorist activity and financial fraud with their software. They’ve been credited with assisting the government in finding Osama Bin Laden and have several government contracts with many military and investigative branches of the government. These contracts are said to be valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars and Palantir itself is valued at $20 billion.

    The reason some may find this bit of news ironic is because of Peter Thiel’s financially backed lawsuits against the former Gawker Media, most famously the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that drove Gawker into bankruptcy. It’s been alleged that Thiel backed these lawsuits as a form of payback against Gawker who outed Thiel as gay on their website. Some may even say that Gawker’s story could be considered discriminatory. So, on the surface it could appear that there could be double standards at play. However, if the lawsuit does have merit and is successful, it’s very doubtful that the government would order a settlement that would bankrupt Palantir.

  • Geebo 10:02 am on September 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Google Glass, , , Spectacles   

    Snapchat announces video recording glasses 

    Snapchat announces video recording glasses

    The company behind the ubiquitous photo sharing and messaging Snapchat, has changed their name to Snap Inc., and that wasn’t even their big announcement of the weekend. Snap announced that they were releasing video recording sunglasses called Spectacles.

    For some this brings back memories of the controversial Google Glass. While Google Glass was planned to be a wearable computing device, it ended up not being much more than a video recorder. The main controversy with that aspect of Google Glass was that people could be recorded without them knowing about it, leading to some establishments in the Bay Area to ban Google Glass. Snap claims that Spectacles will not have this issue as they have a set of lights that will light up whenever it’s recording. Also, since they’re sunglasses, you would notice if you were being recorded indoors since the recorder would be wearing sunglasses indoors. Another reason that Spectacles could be more successful that Google Glass is accessibility. While Glass was $1500 a pair, Spectacles are said to be listed at $130.

    The question is, since most people have cameras on their phones do we need another type of camera? Snap CEO Evan Spiegel seems to think so.

    “It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”

    Will that experience be enough for consumers to part with their money? In these days of virtual and augmented realities, it just might.

  • Geebo 11:08 am on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Yahoo hacked again. What you need to do 

    Yahoo hacked again. What you need to do

    Yesterday, Yahoo announced that 500 million accounts had been stolen by a state-sponsored hack back in 2014. So if you use Yahoo Mail, or any other of their services like Flickr, it’s time to change your password once again. Even if you’ve changed your password since the hack took place it is recommended that you update your password again. This inevitably brings out the articled and blog posts about how to keep your passwords secure, and this is one of them.

    First, you should try using a passphrase instead of a password. Also you should really consider enabling two-factor authentication for most of your accounts. Some tech experts also suggest using a password manager. Personally, I don’t care for password managers for one reason, they require a master password. That means that all your passwords can have a single point of failure. If you lose your password manager’s password then all your passwords could be lost. Conversely, if someone were to access your password manager’s password they’d have access to all your passwords. However, your results may vary.

    A great resource to see if any of your accounts have been hacked is the “have i been pwned?” website. At their website you can enter your email address to see if any of your accounts associated with your email address have been compromised in the most infamous hacks that have taken place on the internet.

    Lastly, and this one can’t be stressed enough, don’t use the same password for all your accounts. That is how most accounts get hacked. Hackers will get an email address and password from one hack, such as Yahoo’s, and then will try them on other services like Facebook to try to gain even more of your personal information.

  • Geebo 9:51 am on September 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Do you know how your kids’ school monitors them online? 

    Do you know how your kids' school monitors them online?

    These days a number of schools issue Chromebooks or iPads to their students to in order to assist the students with online learning. These programs are also often seen as a boon to families who may not necessarily be able to afford to provide their kids with electronic devices for school. But did you know that the schools can access those computers at almost any time?

    Usually when a school checks a child’s activity on a school issued device, it’s either to make sure the device isn’t being used improperly, or to make sure a student isn’t getting behind in their work. However, there have been incidents of abuse in the past where schools have used the devices’ cameras to allegedly spy on students in their homes.

    So what kind of privacy can you and your kids expect on these school issued devices. Well, according to TechCrunch, virtually none and the schools aren’t exactly forthcoming with that information. However this lack of privacy can be used as a teaching opportunity for your kids and how to behave online. It can teach them that their online activities can have real world repercussions and can prepare them to protect their own privacy for when they become adults.

  • Geebo 11:28 am on September 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    New type of ATM skimmers appear in US 

    New type of ATM skimmers appear in US

    In case you’ve never heard of an ATM Skimmer it’s normally a device that a suspect will insert into the card reader of an ATM. This device will read all the information off your ATM card,including your PIN. It’s not just ATMs though, these skimmers can also be attached to gas pumps and any other stand alone machine that accepts debit cards. These type of skimmers can be usually thwarted by firmly pulling on the slot where the card is inserted, If a part slides out, it’s probably not safe to use that ATM or other machine.

    Recently, the Secret Service released an announcement to financial institutions that a new type of skimmer has shown up in the US and isn’t as easy to spot. The skimmer, called a periscope, is a piece of hardware that is installed inside the ATM. According to the announcement, the suspects access the ATM from the top in order to install the skimmer. The Krebs on Security blog post that’s been linked to recommends that you should only use ATMs that are embedded into the bank’s walls and can’t be accessed from the top.

    Unfortunately, there’s no absolute way to always protect yourself from ATM and debit card fraud. However, you can avoid problems by just using some common sense and if a ATM machine or any other card reading machine feels shady or unreliable just pass it by.

  • Geebo 10:28 am on September 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hp, ink cartridges, ,   

    Printers start rejecting low budget ink alternatives 

    Printers start rejecting low budget alternatives

    We’ve all heard the joke when it comes to computer printers. It’s cheaper to buy a new printer than it is to buy the ink. Even though we all joke about it, but this is the printer companies business model. They sell the printers at a loss and make up the difference on the expensive ink. Even though you can buy a decent printer from places such as your local drug store for around $20 bucks, most people would not just throw out their printer when it runs out of ink.

    Printer ink is so expensive that there is a cottage industry of services that either teach you how to refill your own cartridges or will refill them for you for only a fraction of the cost of regular printer ink, much to the chagrin if printer companies. One printer company, possibly the most famous one, has allegedly decided to put a stop to that.

    Many users of Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers, have recently complained that an aftermarket brand of printer ink cartridges have stopped working in their printers. HP hasn’t commented on this specific issue but it’s believed that HP allegedly stopped the non-HP cartridges from working after a firmware upgrade.

    So what’s a consumer to do? You can either sell a kidney and buy your printer’s brand of ink, just kidding sort of, or you can wait for the aftermarket brands to circumvent the firmware upgrade. Neither situation is ideal, unfortunately, and could potentially make or break a business that’s dependent on printing. Unless you’re a design or printing company, maybe it’s time to start going paper free. With the expense of ink and the fact that reams of paper are environmentally unfriendly, maybe it’s time that we start kicking our printers to the curb.

  • Geebo 12:22 pm on September 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    When did we give up our privacy? 

    When did we give up our privacy?

    Tech blog Mashable recently posted a listicle entitled “6 ways you’re being too open online”. It has some good tips like not accessing sensitive information over public wifi and the mandatory tip about keeping strong passwords. One tip they share is one that not too many people seem to want to follow and that’s “Posting too freely on social media.”

    Services like Facebook and Instagram seem anathema to not only privacy advocates but they fly in the face of most if not all security protocols. Back in the days of the early web in the late 90s, most tech experts would say not to post any personal information online. Then somewhere in the mid 2000s with the advent of social media, we all started posting our personal information online so we could reconnect with old friends. Then it got to the point where we document our daily lives online with endless selfies and detailed descriptions of our daily minutia. It has become so accepted that we don’t even think twice about it anymore.

    A lot of the information that we share openly online can be used by bad actors to socially engineer their way into your personal accounts. Facebook tells everyone when your birthday is, and your birthday is often used an identifier to access your accounts. When you post pictures on Instagram of being at a party or on vacation people can tell when your home is left unprotected. Even posting pictures of your kids at their soccer game or whatever activity they enjoy can give predators information on how to approach your children.

    Have we become so narcissistic as a society the we crave likes and follows so much that we disregard our own safety? If so, maybe it’s time that we started re-thinking our safety priorities.

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