Does Evernote have any critics?

Are you part of the cult of Evernote? Do you use the well-known organizing app to plan meetings, save your favorite Web pages and track of your wedding anniversary date? Do you use the program to store images and videos for work or play? If so, you’re not alone. As a recent story by BloombergBusinessweek shows, a growing number of tablet and computer users are discovering to Evernote. And the fans of the software are far from shy about their passion for it.

Booming popularity

The BloombergBusinessweek story makes a convincing case that a real cult has grown up around Evernote. This may seem odd; considering that, Evernote is just an organizing app. It’s a highly effective and efficient organizing app. But apps that don’t involve angry birds or farms don’t often attract such loyal and vocal followings. Nevertheless Evernote has, with its fans voluntarily promoting the program and promoting it to others. Check out tech forums, and you’ll undoubtedly find messages from users praising this app.

Why the praise?

According to the BloombergBusinessweek story, Evernote presently has more than 50 million users worldwide. Plus the number of users remains on the rise. The story states that more than 100,000 new users sign up for Evernote each day. That’s impressive. And the BloombergBusinessweek interview quotes CEO Phil Libin as saying that his goal is to soon reach 1 billion users.

The secret

In the story, Libin says that he doesn’t understand the concept of work/life balance. For home, work is part of life, and something that he enjoys doing. It’s why he admits to checking e-mail messages late into the evening. Evernote takes advantage of this changing view of the world, one embraced by not just Libin. A growing number of individuals work on the fly, scheduling meetings and interviews around the clock. An organizing tool like Evernote is an ideal fit for this lifestyle. Which just might reveal why the app has grown to be so popular so quickly.

Is the U.S. government driving a black market in zero-day bugs?

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.

These iPad apps are must-haves if you’re a professional writer

If you are a experienced writer who also happens to own an iPad, you’re fortunate: Software developers have created several apps to help you do your work better, whether you cover real estate news for a trade magazine, blog about technology or write romance fiction. Here is a closer look at some of the better iPad apps for truly serious writers. When you earn your living with the written word, these apps are must-haves.

Paper by FiftyThree

This nifty app helps writers at the start of the creative process. Paper permits you capture your thoughts as anything from sketches and diagrams to notes, illustrations or drawings. You can even share your thoughts online to get feedback.

iA Writer

Information Architects’ iA Writer forces writers to concentrate on one thing, writing. This is because iA Writer intentionally doesn’t allow users to mess with fonts, colors or other distractions. With this tool, you’re able to do one thing: create and edit plain text files on your iPad.

Google Drive

Need to store your video, music, photo and text files in one location? Try Google Drive. This app, created by Google, offers you 5GB worth of storage for free.

Evernote

Evernote is already a favored note-taking app. But it is especially helpful for professional writers. Using this app, it is possible to take notes, create to-do lists and record voice reminders. This is an efficient way to keep even the most flighty writer focused.

iThoughtsHD

Few organization programs are as useful to writers as is iThoughtsHD. Use this program to organize your thoughts as task list, project-planning document or brainstorming session. You may also make use of the program to make meeting notes.

Penultimate

Another useful app produced by Evernote, Penultimate allows you to handwrite notes straight to your iPad. You can use the application to take notes, draw sketches and record those incredible ideas you don’t want to forget when you leave your desk.

GoodReader

You’ll never struggle to read PDF files again after obtaining the GoodReader app. This app, developed by Good.iWare, enables you to read just about any document with your iPad.

Index Card

Know that corkboard hanging from your office wall? DenVog’s Index Card is that very same corkboard only on your iPad. It is possible to stick virtual notes to this app filled with story ideas, outlines and plot summaries.

Notably

There are plenty of solid note-taking apps for your iPad. Notably, though, earns praise for the way it syncs with the Dropbox cloud storage system. Whenever you write down a note, save an assignment due date or sketch a character’s story arc with Notably, your changes will sync with Dropbox.

Hackers now targeting smart phones

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.

Scary Numbers

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.

Protect Yourself

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.

How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware

Have you ever heard of ransomware? It is a particularly frightening new form of malware. A recent story published by Slate goes into the details of how it attacks your computer. After clicking on a dubious link from an email or a webpage, your screen will instantly turn grey. Then a message pops up that is branded to look like it’s from the FBI. Additionally, it has you on a live webcam feed!

That isn’t even the scariest part. A message will then appear on your screen telling you that you have violated copyright laws and have two choices. One, pay a fine within 48 to 72 hours, or two, go to prison for as much as three years. You are also told that if you do not pay your computer will be locked indefinitely.

A real threat

Obviously you will not be charged with anything if you don’t pay, it is a scam. However, they may actually be able to lock you out of your computer according to a senior security advisor quoted by Slate. So should you just pay the fine to prevent this, it’s usually in the $100 range, or not? Maybe not, once they have your money there is no guarantee they won’t lock your computer anyway to get more money.

True protection

McAfee, the well-known maker of antivirus software, noted that it recorded more than 120,000 new examples of ransomware attacks in the second quarter of 2012. How to protect yourself? Exactly the same way you protect yourself from any type of malicious code. Make certain you have antivirus software installed on your computer. Just as significantly, don’t visit dubious websites, illegally download files to your computer, or click on strange links in email addresses.

And if your computer is infected? This is a pretty complex type of malware. To revive your computer, you might need to recruit the help of a computer security expert. Slate also suggests that you contact the real FBI by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

Evernote: Stay Organized

Phil Libin designed Evernote to behave as a second brain. At its most basic, Evernote is simply several pieces of software that store notes, photos, videos, and web pages on virtual notes. The benefit of Evernote is that after you store your notes, you can search for them. Simply put, you will not be poring through countless files on your computer searching for that chicken salad recipe. Instead, you can just log onto Evernote, search for “chicken salad,” and immediately pull up that recipe. The thing about Evernote, though is that it is so simple to use that some users don’t dig deep enough into the program’s capabilities. Those who do not take the time to truly explore this program will lose out.

Mobile

One feature that is sometimes forgotten is Evernote’s capacity to sync with other devices. This lets you access your notes from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. To accomplish this you only need to install the Evernote app on the device and sign into your account. It will then conveniently sync, saving all your information to all your devices.

Protect yourself

If you are concerned about storing your bank account information or your passwords into Evernote, it is not necessary. You can encrypt your information.

It is not difficult to do this. Just highlight the text you want, right click, and select the “encrypt selected text” option. You will then be asked to create a password for your encryption. Now your information is safe and sound.

Outside apps

Another lesser-known feature of Evernote is that it works together with outside apps. One of these being an app for the iPad called WritePad. It allows users to take hand written notes with their stylus or their finger. The user can then decide to save it directly to Evernote.

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Antivirus Software: Not As Protective As You Think

Most of us think it’s vital that you keep your antivirus software up-to-date. This is how we can protect our systems from viruses. Recently MIT’s Technology Review published an article that opposes this “given” we have all lived by.

Antivirus Software: Unreliable?

The antivirus software that we have paid for and long trusted to shield our information may not be effective. The technology is running a race with malware programs and malware is winning. More sophisticated and tricky to detect malware comes out every day and this is very concerning to those of us who access the Internet on a daily bases.

Burned by Flame

One of the most complex examples of malware to date is Flame. Flame copies documents, audio, network traffic, and keystrokes made on a computer that has been infected by it. The scary thing is, Flame has been active for a couple years now. During all of this time, no security software has been developed to detect this malware.

An Industry Under Siege

As the Technology Review story says, though, Flame is far from the only malware to slip past antivirus software. Several complex malware attacks in recent years have avoided detection by antivirus software. The story quotes an official with an antivirus firm who labeled Flame as a major failure of the antivirus industry. What’s this mean for you? Only that your computer probably isn’t nearly as safe as you’ve thought. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t install any antivirus software on your computer. Until the security side of the computer industry catches up, antivirus software remains your very best chance of thwarting a virus attack. Just don’t be overly surprised if that antivirus software fails.

The Rise of OpenStreetMap

Online mapping has been dominated by Google Maps for some time. Nevertheless, OpenStreetMap is gaining fast. Though it is only 8 years old, it is clear that the people at OpenStreetMap are vying for the title of most-used web map service.

Just like Google Maps, OpenStreetMap is a world map where users can plan directions and obtain street views of places they are curious about. It is becoming more and more popular. In March, it had almost 560,000 individual registered users.

OpenStreetMap’s Growing Popularity

The mapping service also scored a significant public-relations victory in early March when Apple moved from using Google Maps to OpenStreetMap in its mobile software for regions outside the United States. And more recently, Apple  dumped Google Maps for its iPhoto service on iOS, Apple’s new photo management app. The new maps on this service are created from OpenStreetMap data. This is probably one of the biggest indicators that OpenStreetMap poses a real threat to Google Maps.

Other companies are making the switch as well. For instance, a popular social media service, Foursquare, made the change a few months ago. So, what is the reason that OpenStreetMap is becoming so popular? One advantage that it has over Google Maps is that it lets users to update maps based on experience. Two heads are better then one, right? And if you look at the success that Wikipedia has had with this philosophy, it points to a bright future for the fledgling digital map company.

Google No Longer Invulnerable?

Taking on Google is normally an unwise decision, but the search giant has recently suffered some defeats. For instance, its Google+ social media service hasn’t yet emerged as a serious rival to either Facebook or LinkedIn. Will OpenStreetMap deal Google another defeat? That’s hard to tell, but for now it’s clear that OpenStreetMap is making gains and growing in popularity.

5 Tips to Use Excel More Efficiently

You may want to wow your boss because you want a promotion, or a raise, or you simply want to stand out from the crowd. Regardless of the reason, the initial question is how?

Why not consider Excel? This spreadsheet program might appear to be just a basic, albeit essential, business tool, but the truth is there are several lesser-known Excel tricks that enable you to work more efficiently.

  • Hiding Information: You may wonder why you may wish to hide particular information in a spreadsheet. Well, imagine the spreadsheet which has all your data with regards to the company also has everyone’s salary. That is confidential information that you don’t want to reveal at the meeting. Simple hide the column or row by clicking the related number or letter to highlight it, then right-click on that highlighted row or column and choose the Hide option from the popup menu. You may then Unhide the row or column in the same manner once the meeting is finished.
  • Timestamping: You can attach a fixed date and time to your Excel spreadsheets using your computer’s “Ctrl” key. To do this, hold Ctrl while you press the semicolon key. For the current date and time merely hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys while pressing the semicolon.
  • A Better-Looking Spreadsheet: Give your spreadsheet a fresh look by using Excel’s Themes option. You can find this in the Excel Ribbon, at the top. Click it, and you’ll be given a huge variety of fonts, and color schemes that you may apply to your spreadsheet. You can also create your own!
  • Tracking Trends: The newest version of Excel includes a feature called Sparklines. With this feature, you can create small charts that show trends in information. For example, you might use Sparklines to instantly determine how many software bundles each of your company’s salespeople sold in the first half of 2011.
  • Conditional Formatting: This feature allows formatting only in cells that meet the criteria that you select. For instance you could decided to have any dollar amount over 1,000 be a particular color.

The Up and Coming Windows Phone

Microsoft is a household name. And Bill Gates is arguably one of the most important names in the technology field. But has Microsoft ever been “cool”? Not really, in the eyes of consumers it’s always fell a tad short of hip, but Microsoft’s new software for smartphones may alter the way the organization is viewed.

Microsoft has long fought an industry reputation as a sort of stodgy dullard. There is a decent list of unsuccessful Microsoft products. Remember the Zune music player? Maybe not. What about the Kin phone? That flop has long vanished from the minds of most consumers.

Windows Phone software, though, seems to be a hit among the technology press. Many media critics are saying that Windows Phone is probably the best looking and performing smartphone operating systems currently available. That’s heady praise for any company, not just Microsoft.

Windows Phone gets praise for its easy to use interface, and its fresh look. Users have easier access to social networks the in the past, the tiles on the home screen come to life when friends update their Twitter of Facebook keeping users up-to-date.

It is intriguing that even with all these features, Windows Phone hasn’t been a big seller. This may be, in part, a result of the phones which use Windows Phone as an operating system, many people think they are bland. Another contributing factor is that most wireless providers push iPhone and Android devices.

The Windows Phone, though, provides some hope for Microsoft’s attempts to capture some cool. Certainly, big sales and ubiquitous products are important, but a little hipness never hurt a company, either.