Smartphones, tablets and laptops are wonderful tools: They allow us to search the Internet, answer e-mail messages and watch video whether we’re on the train or waiting for our flight at the airport. But these devices can be dangerous, too. If they fall into the wrong hands, your private information, from your online banks accounts to your e-mail messages to your Facebook pages, can fall prey to cyber thieves. And there’s little limit to the problems they can create. Luckily for us, there are steps that you can use to protect your privacy even in today’s age of mobile computing, and as Forbes says, these steps are very easy.
Forbes recommends you always password-protect your mobile devices. This way, if you lose your tablet or someone steals your smartphone, the thief won’t be able to effortlessly access your device and the private data stored on it. Forbes compares password-protecting your devices to locking your home’s front door; it’s just common sense.
Online Google Alerts
Do you know what people are saying about you online? You might like to. You don’t want any of your secrets sailing around the Internet. Forbes recommends that you create a Google Alert on your name. That way, each time anyone types it online, you’ll receive a message alerting you. Then you’re able to take a look at what’s being said about you. Consider this to be a very easy way to track your online presence.
You just completed changing your Facebook page. You’ve just transferred money electronically to your PayPal account. What do you do now? Make sure, before leaving the site, that you simply sign out. This is especially important if you’re using a computer at a library or any other public space. You don’t want the next user to see your accounts and gain instant access because you’re still signed in. We’re all busy. However you are not too busy to remember to sign out.
Are you like technology writer Andy Ihnatko? The writer never imagined he would ditch his iPhone. As he writes in a recent column for the Tech Hive Website, he obtained his first iPhone when Apple was launching its first-generation versions. And he has raved about the gadgets in his tech writing. Nevertheless that didn’t stop Ihnatko from switching just recently to a Samsung Galaxy S III. The reason? The Android operating system that powers the phone. In Ihnatko’s opinion, this operating system has grown to be more efficient, powerful and intuitive compared to the system powering iPhones, iOS.
Making the move toward Android
Ihnatko writes that he’s long been considered an Apple fanboy. He purchased the first-generation iPhone long ago. And stayed with the iPhone brand until switching, very recently, to a Galaxy S III smartphone from Samsung, a phone powered, of course, by the Android operating system. And just why did Ihnatko decide to switch? Put simply, he considers the Android operating system of today to be the superior choice.
A great operating system?
Ihnatko writes that the Android operating system has simply grown into what he calls a great operating system. Simultaneously, the hardware that runs this system – the smartphones themselves – have become more powerful, too, he writes. That combo has steered him away from iPhone and toward Android-powered smartphones. Ihnatko is so enamored of his Galaxy smartphone, he has even given up on the unlimited data plan he held with his iPhone, a plan he had since he had joined iPhone nation so early.
Two crucial factors
So, what makes Android better, as stated by Ihnatko? First, Android phones come with better keyboards, he writes. This is very important for someone who answers several e-mail messages and sends out several Tweets every day. Then there’s screen size. Ihnatko states that the screen on his iPhone now seems tiny in comparison to the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S III. In today’s mobile world — when we spend a lot of time watching video and accessing the Web with our smartphones, that larger screen means a lot.
How many e-mails did you send out today? You probably lost count at some point shortly after lunch. The odds are that you sent over a dozen messages to family members, friends, clients and co-workers. Here’s the big question: Were any of these e-mail messages rude? Were any overly brief? Would any one of the messages you sent today make their recipients wonder if they had done something to offend you? Yes, there is such a thing as e-mail etiquette. Here’s a short primer regarding how to mind your manners when sending e-mail.
Brevity can be off-putting
How many times have you gotten an extremely brief e-mail message? It’s not hard to think that the sender is angry with you for some reason. However, let’s suppose the sender was sending the message via an iPhone or iPad? It isn’t a simple task to type on small mobile devices. And for that reason, a lot of us keep our messages short when typing on those irritatingly constraining pop-up keyboards. To let readers know that this is the cause for the brevity, create a specific signature for any e-mail accounts you use on smartphones and tablets. As per the Web site Mashable, this signature should tell folks that you’re e-mailing from a mobile device, which is the reason your message is very short. For example “Excuse my brevity; I’m typing this on my iPhone” should do the job.
When your inbox is back logged, it’s very easy to let some messages languish without response. You’re simply short on time. But not responding to an e-mail message from a co-worker, friend or family member is fairly rude. Even if you can’t yet address the actual question in an e-mail message, make sure you send back a quick reply explaining that you’re flooded with other tasks but will get to the question as quickly as possible.
Take your time
CBS News also advises that you take time to actually proofread your e-mail messages before sending them. It’s tempting to quickly dash off a message and hit “send.” Doing this, can leave you with a message that’s loaded with typos. Worse yet, you might forget to include a key attachment. Don’t rush. It’s respectful to make sure that you are sending out a competent e-mail message.
Keep your voice down
You wouldn’t shout in a normal conversation. Don’t do it in an e-mail message, either. If you don’t know, shouting in e-mail means typing your reply in all capital letters. This is glaring to the eye, and a big e-mail no-no. So stick to the normal rules of capitalization when penning your e-mail messages.
Stuxnet made big headlines in 2010. That’s when online security experts first discovered this new piece of malware, one strong enough to attack and control the industrial systems used in the nuclear program being developed by Iran. As a newly released story by the MIT Technology Review says, most people today believe the intelligence departments of Israel and the United States collaborated to develop Stuxnet. And that, to many, is troubling news. It’s evidence of a new from of electronic warfare, one in which countries create powerful malevolent software to unleash on their adversaries. And the United States seems to be leading the charge.
A developing industry
What is the long-term impact of malware weapons? The Technology Review story fears that governments, by investing a great deal of research and dollars into creating these virtual weapons, is making an ever-more hazardous Internet. And it appears these fears are justified. Since Stuxnet was unleashed in 2010, it’s clear that governments have invested a lot more money producing malware weapons. No one knows, in fact, how frequently such weapons have been deployed. It’s almost certain many of these weapons have already been unleashed without the public’s knowledge.
A mobile attack?
Even more alarming? Smartphones and tablets are far from safe from this kind of government-created malware. It’s indisputable that consumers are leaving desktop computers and latching onto smartphones, tablets as well as other mobile-computing devices. As this trend gains momentum, governments are focusing their efforts on the mobile market. The Technology Review story says that exploits that focus on mobile software are prized because manufacturers so rarely send updates to their mobile operating systems. As a result these systems are especially susceptible to malware attacks.
An old story?
The Technology Review story ends on this chilling thought: Maybe malware weapons are nothing new. After all, countries are always developing new and more damaging weapons. It ought to come as little surprise, then, that governments are taking to the online world, too, with regards to crafting new weapons. It’s unfortunate, though, that this newest round of arms building is creating a more dangerous Internet.
Is Web site Business Insider engaging in hyperbole when it declared the end of the era of the PC? Maybe. But there’s no question the boom days of the personal computer have ended. Just look at the growing demand for mobile computing. Consumers today are switching to their tablets and smartphones in increasing numbers to access the Internet. That is the primary reason why Business Insider’s editors aren’t too far off in predicting the end of the PC’s computing dominance.
Consumers lukewarm toward PCs
It’s not that people will no longer buy PCs. They will. They just aren’t going to be buying as many. And when they need to check their e-mail messages, update their Facebook pages and search for the phone number of that new Thai restaurant, they’ll be much more likely to punch up the Internet with their smartphones or tablets. Business Insider relies on data from IDC and Gartner showing that PC sales have been flat since 2009 while the quantity of smartphones sold has now overtaken the number of PCs sold.
Tablets are Hot, Not PCs
And what growth that’s coming in computer sales is not from PCs but from tablets. Based on the numbers from Gartner, IDC and Strategy Analytics, tablet sales are now higher than PC sales, too. In a rather amazing result, Business Insider has found that U.S. consumers so love the iPad that they’re buying more than one per household. In July of 2012, 32.3 percent of consumers said their households had two iPads. Another 10.1 percent reported that they had three, while 4.9 percent said they had greater than four.
No young love for PCs
The future doesn’t look any better for PC makers. Business Insider, relying on numbers from Nielsen, found about 40 percent of consumers 13 and older want to purchase tablets in the next half-year. Not as impressive is the number who want to buy PCs. Only 19 percent are interested in computers. And the news is even worse for PC makers when considering young consumers. Business Insider reported that a massive 75 percent or so of young consumers are interested to buy tablets in the next six months, compared to just 30 percent who wish to buy a PC.
Windows 8 represents a dramatic change for Microsoft’s venerable operating system: It’s created to work not just with mouse and keyboard but also with a touchscreen. But many users who upgrade to the new os aren’t going to be running Windows 8 on a touch screen. They will be relying on older computers that still operate the old-fashioned way, with mouse and keyboard controls. Then there are tablet users, users running Windows 8 only on tablets are not receiving the full Windows 8 experience. There are some functions that run better with mouse and keyboard control. That doesn’t mean, though, that owners who rely either on tablets or traditional computers won’t be able to use the many features built into the new operating system. They can. They only have to buy the right peripherals. PC Magazine recently ran an article outlining exactly what these peripherals are.
Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard
PC Magazine points out that the Microsoft Wedge is not merely a portable keyboard. It’s also an indispensable tool to allow tablet users to get the most of the Windows 8 experience. For one thing, the keyboard provides a better typing experience than your tablet’s onscreen keyboard. Secondly, Windows 8 features are included in the keypad. The cover becomes a tablet stand, allowing you to approximate the desktop experience.
Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad
Want to access all those touch-screen features incorporated into Windows 8 without having to get a tablet or other touch-screen device? Try the Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad. The product works so well the editors at PC Mag have made it their top choice for Windows 8 computer mice.
Kingston DataTraveler Workspace
The Kingston DataTraveler Workspace is a truly impressive device. It looks like a typical USB drive. However actually holds Windows To Go, a portable Windows 8 operating system. You heard that right, using this device you can now boot up Windows 8 on any PC. It’s a easy way to enjoy the Windows 8 experience while you’re on the road.
Cyber criminals have long centered on running their swindles on PC users. And they have been tremendously successful in stealing personal data and stealing funds from countless people. Now these cyber criminals are unleashing their malware attacks on smartphones, tapping into another huge potential market of gullible users. This should come as being a surprise to nobody. Smart phones are booming in popularity. And many users treat their mobile devices as miniature computers. They surf the Web, send e-mail messages and bank online using their smart phones. Fortunately, you can take measures to ward off mobile malware. It mostly requires that you employ good judgment when navigating the internet using your smart phone.
The security firm F-Secure offers rather frightening numbers: According to the firm, the volume of malware attacks directed at mobile Android devices quadrupled from the first quarter of 2011 to the same quarter in 2012. That’s one among the numerous unsettling statistics regarding mobile malware. CNN Money writer David Goldman, for instance, recently cited an article from security firm Lookout Security that four in 10 smart phone users will click or swipe a suspicious Web Link this year. Goldman also writes that mobile phone cyber attacks have spiked by a factor of six, according to numbers revealed from anti-virus company McAfee.
The Good News
There is some very good news, though. In spite of the surge in smartphone malware attacks, such cyber crimes continue to be relatively rare, particularly if when compared to the frequent attacks on PCs. Goldman writes that McAfee by the middle of 2012 had found about 13,000 mobile malware types. That sounds like a lot. But the same company found more than 90 million forms of malware attacks leveled against PCs. The reason for the discrepancy? First, smart phone code is relatively new. Programmers have learned from the many cyber attacks unleashed against PCs. Secondly, cyber criminals have done so well in attacking PCs, they haven’t had as much incentive to target smartphones and other mobile devices.
You can safeguard your phone from mobile malware attacks. Start by getting anti-virus software from reputable companies. Be cautious, though–cyber criminals could create bogus anti-virus software that doesn’t protect your phone but instead sends these criminals your information. Also, make sure to research any app before you download it. You want to be sure that it is offered by a reputable company. Finally, be equally as wary of phishing schemes as you would be while sitting in front of your computer. Never provide your Social Security Number, bank account numbers or other important information in an e-mail. Your bank will not ask for such numbers in e-mail.
Here’s a simple truth: Most everyone with a smartphone uses it to view and send e-mail messages. But no one appears to like their mobile e-mail programs. Tech company Orchestra, though, hopes to change this. The company recently published Mailbox, its new e-mail client for your iPhone. The iphone app is receiving great reviews.
Tech writers happen to be enthused about Mailbox for iPhone for one primary reason: It is easy to tell it’s designed specifically for a smart phone. This represents a big difference from most mobile e-mail programs. Too many of them operate as though they were designed for desktop and laptop computers and then imported, with few changes, to mobile platforms. Mailbox for iPhone doesn’t feel as if it’s designed this way. That’s because to delete messages, archive them, save them for a later date or respond to them, you apply the swiping motion so common to today’s smart phones and other mobile computing devices. This straightforward change gives Mailbox for iPhone an advantage over its rivals.
Supporters of the new Mailbox app point out that sending e-mail messages feels a lot more like Tweeting or texting. This is a pretty heady compliment; after all, most smart phone users prefer texting or submitting quick Tweets to depending on traditional e-mail programs to send messages. Mailbox also configures e-mail messages so they are easy to read on a typical smart phone screen. When messages are first displayed, for example, Mailbox does not show unneeded information like signatures. It’s only when users tap on messages that more info — such as the “To” and “From” features — are displayed.
Mailbox for iPhone also acts as a handy to-do list for replying to e-mail messages. For example, when you read an email, it is easy to assign it a priority. You could choose to have the message reappear in your e-mail inbox, for action, two days later. Should the message carries a lower priority, you can ask for it to appear again in a month. This supplies users with a simple way to gain some control over their incoming e-mail messages. For anyone who is frustrated by your present mobile e-mail program, it might be the perfect time to explore the iPhone version of Mailbox. You just might discover that it’s the perfect e-mail application on your smart phone.
When we have a lot of clutter and papers on our desk, it can be hard to work effectively. If you spend your days looking at a desk cluttered with all of your tasks, you can easily be intimidated. And what about under your desk? Do you frequently have to kick wires out of the way while you’re working? If this sounds familiar, here are several easy ways you can reduce clutter and improve your efficiency.
- Tackle the wires – There are two good options here: one affordable way is to invest in a few large binder clips. These clips, of course, work great for keeping papers in order. You could be surprised at how effective they are for keeping computer cables under control too. The more expensive option is to buy wireless charging pads. These pads allow you to charge everything from a wireless mouse to a digital camera to your smartphone. No longer will you need a multitude of wires to plug into your mobile and wireless devices. With a charger, you can just connect these devices to one mat-shaped device, often called a powermat, to recharge them, again significantly reducing your dependence on computer cables and power cords.
- Reduce desktop clutter – If your desktop is cluttered with paper, you can reduce this by just using less paper. Seems evident right? We are much more reliant now-a-days on digital communication. Which means that much of the information you need is obtainable in your email. You can organize that info within your email or you can use a program like Evernote to keep your notes safe and digital. Often, our desks can become cluttered with papers. If you must keep papers, be sure you file them away ASAP. This will keep you organized and your desk clear.
- Throw things away – Become good, too, at throwing things away. If a client provides you with a sample of a book that you will never read, either pass it along to a fellow co-worker or donate to your local Goodwill. If you receive a memo that you know you’ll only look at once, recycle it. The quicker you move items off your desk, the less likely you are to clutter your workspace.
When you are traveling for business, it can be difficult to be as productive as you are in the office. The Internet connection at the hotel can be inconsistent, and it can be tough to stay on top of your email when you are in business meetings or traveling from one place to another. Luckily, there are several tech tools that can help greatly while you are away from the office. We have highlighted a few below.
GroupMe: Sometimes while you’re on the road you have to communicate quickly with certain groups of employees or partners. You can make this a lot easier with the GroupMe app. This app permits you to create groups from lists of employees. You can then send messages or updates to everyone on these lists with just one text message.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector DUAL USB Charger: With this powerful tool you can instantly charge all of your mobile devices at once. It features three AC outlets and two USB outlets, in addition to being a surge protector. You can see how this would prove useful!
Campfire: If you wish to talk, not just send a quick text, to your whole team, you can utilize the Campfire app. It allows you to set up a chat room with any amount of people you want. Everyone in the group will be able to see all of the messages people are sending. You can even make conference calls with it!