Your 2018 New Year’s TECH Resolutions!

Say goodbye to 2017 and make some changes to protect your Technology

As with all New Year’s Resolutions- my advice is not to make them SO insurmountable that you set yourself up for failure. On the flip side, don’t make them so easy that they do nothing for you, or that you feel no sense of accomplishment.

1. ORGANIZE!

That being said, my number one Resolution is to Organize. Now this is an incredibly broad word and in its entirety, is way easier said than done. My point here is just focus on ONE part of your life. Your desk, your bedroom, your kitchen. Likewise, maybe just your EMAIL, your to-do list, your daily routine, etc.

My focus here is related to a conversation I had with a friend last night. They were searching everywhere for their medical card (NOT a Medical marijuana one). I asked them if they use Dropbox. She said “yes, it’s great for all my pictures!” I used to do that too. It is so one dimensional though that I was missing the point. When I came to LA Creative Technologies I found a big EMPTY file cabinet. I asked Josh where all his important documents were- like the one I had at my last business that overflowed with papers and junk and mismatched files?

He said- “they’re all in the cloud”. Assuming that he didn’t just throw them all in a bonfire I asked questions and found that he kept scanned copies of EVERYTHING- contracts, tax returns, legal documents, leases, warranties, etc. etc. in a cloud application like Drop Box. Anywhere we go in the world we simply sign in to that app, search for the folder (or even the name of the document, like “copy of Driver’s license”) and Viola! there it is!

So, guess what? No more frantic searching for documents or ID cards that you need once a year and can never remember the “clever” spot you put them in! Try this and you will NEVER look back! AND you will never look for those documents either!

2. UPDATE your software!

Some of the most damaging Cyber-attacks in 2017 involved Ransomware.  In May, the ransomware known as WannaCry affected more than 200,000 Windows computers in 150 countries. Security experts believe the malware spread through machines by getting people to download it via email.

This is the incredible part: Microsoft had already released a security update that would have prevented the WannaCry malware from infecting machines. But the hacked computers were behind on downloading the updates. This episode was an important reminder that keeping your software up to date is crucial.

3. Read Privacy Policies

Amid Uber’s laundry list of scandals, which included sexual harassment accusations and an undisclosed security breach, there was an important revelation that everyone can learn from. It involved Unroll.me, a free service that unsubscribes you from junk mail.

To gather intelligence about its competition, Uber bought information about its main rival, Lyft, from Unroll.me. How did Uber do that, exactly? Unroll.me scanned the contents of its users’ inboxes and sold anonymized data, information that did not have individuals’ names attached to it — in this case, emailed Lyft receipts — to Uber.

You may be shocked to learn about Unroll.me’s business model. But the truth was always there in the fine print: the company’s privacy policy clearly stated that “we may collect, use, transfer, sell and disclose non-personal information for any purpose” and that data can be used “to build anonymous market research products and services.” Still, people were understandably outraged by the misleading nature of Unroll.me. A company that promised to rid you of spam mail scanned your inbox and sold information about you to other companies, including marketers.

So, make it a habit to read a company’s privacy policy. As boring as it sounds, a bit of reading will go a long way.

4. Delete Unnecessary Apps

The Unroll.me episode also raised awareness of the sheer number of third-party apps that may be leeching off your personal information. There are probably apps and web services you don’t remember downloading or subscribing to, and they could still have access to your data.

THIS year do an audit on your third-party apps. On your smartphone, delete apps that you have not touched in several months. For a clean break, in some cases you will also have to visit the company’s website and request that your account be deleted entirely.

Also check your primary online accounts, like Facebook, Twitter or Google, to see which apps are hooked into them. Chances are you have used those accounts to quickly sign up for a web tool or app. The ones you never use may still be leeching off your personal data, so you should disable them.

On Facebook, go to the settings page and click on the Apps tab to see which apps are connected to the account. On your Google account page, you can find a similar apps list labeled “Connected apps & sites.” And on Twitter, go to the Apps page under “Settings and privacy.”

5. Use a VPN

In April, Congress voted to overturn privacy rules that would have made it more difficult for broadband providers like Comcast and Charter to track and sell information about your browsing history to advertisers. The stronger privacy rules never went into effect, meaning nothing changed. But the privacy repeal underlined the sheer magnitude of data that internet service providers can collect and share about you. Subscribing to a virtual private network, or VPN, is a meaningful safeguard for your online privacy.

When you browse the web, a broadband provider helps route your device’s internet traffic to each destination website. Every device you use has an identifier consisting of a string of numbers, also known as an IP address. When you are on the internet, a service provider can see which devices you use and which sites you visit. You must realize that this information is used extensively in marketing and advertising to YOU among other things.

VPNs help cloak your browsing information from your internet provider. When you use VPN software, your device connects to a VPN provider’s servers. That way, all your web traffic passes through the VPN provider’s internet connection. So, if your internet provider was trying to listen in on your web traffic, all it would see is the VPN server’s IP address connected to the VPN service.

VPNs have their drawbacks. They often slow down internet speeds significantly, and some apps or services don’t work properly when you are connected to a VPN. I also wasn’t able to buy my 5th Groupon in a row during a sale because they found I was using a VPN from a different state (we’ll leave that story for another time…). But everybody can benefit from using a private network, especially in certain situations, like connecting to an open Wi-Fi network at a cafe or an airport.

BONUS Resolution!

For the love of Pete (Or any other person or Deity you choose), get a case and screen protector for your phone!! Just because you got it FREE or only $199 (with an MSRP of $999) after agreeing to pay $30 extra dollars a month, DOES’NT mean that it will be free again when you drop it.

Newer phones are made more and more out of glass and are even more susceptible to damage. For someone who worked in the cell phone industry over 18 years, this author doesn’t leave the store without a case and screen protector in hand (or at least an order placed on Ebay/Amazon for one)

 

I hope these help you to enter 2018 more aware of Internet Technology and how it can and WILL improve your life. People say technology is doing damage in some ways to society, but I feel it’s all in the hands of the users. Literally. Let it IMPROVE your life, not take it over.  I wish you all a Wonderful, Happy and Healthy New Year!

See you in 2018.

 

Some of this information was quoted from New York Times writer Brian X. Chen’s article “5 New Year’s Resolutions to protect your Technology”

 

The BEST of the BEST- Eight Great gift ideas for everyone on your list

Well well, here we are deep in the midst of another Holiday Season. You know the drill: shopping for trees (or like me- digging them up out of your garage), stocking up on fattening snacks, having a wish list for yourself in your head that you know isn’t happening, wondering what to get your spouse/significant other this year, Holiday parties, dealing with family for waaay too long and of course the dreaded White Elephant gift exchange at the office!

Aside from all this fun, there truly ARE some wonderful aspects about this joyful time of year. As a matter of fact, you can turn every one of those points I just listed into positive ones. I am going to add one more for you as well.

It’s my first annual list of awesome gifts for clients, co-workers, bosses and anyone else you want to get an unforgettable gift for! Now rest assured I did not go out and just copy the first list I found. I initially was searching for unique gifts for our clients. What I found was a plethora of interesting choices! Unfortunately, I also found soooo many lists that were just terrible.  Repetitive, uncreative and just plain stale if you ask me.

My gift to all of you this year (aside from all our wonderful tech tips 😉) is my list of all lists. I literally spent HOURS (much to the chagrin of my boss AND my family) combing through these lists to put this baby together. My intention was to save all of you a ton of time and aggravation and show you some of the coolest things to gift this year. By the way you won’t find any of these priced over $100 or even $50, so it’s not a high roller list either. So now, without further ado- HERE is the list:

1. The WYZE Cam- This thing is absolutely amazing. It’s a Wi-Fi smart home camera with 1080 Full HD, night vision (see up to 30’ in the dark!), live stream to your phone, FREE 14 day rolling cloud storage, Time lapse photography, 2-way audio, and so much more. All for $19.99!! https://www.wyzecam.com/

 

 

2. The Keysmart compact keyholder. When living with the demands and pressures of an executive position, the last thing anyone wants is to worry about misplacing everyday items. This pocketable contraption keeps it all together, housing keys and all other popular accessories (USB drive, bottle opener, etc.) in a compact design that doesn’t weight down your pockets. You know, like most other key chains that make you feel like Schneider from “One Day at a Time”. Okay I’m aging myself…

3.  Speaking of ageing- what could be more timeless than the ugly Christmas sweater??? Unfortunately, this is a tough one to evade- especially when you must wear one to attend that cool Christmas party uptown. I’ve got a solution! How about the Christmas hoodie??? This site is OUT OF SITE with some of the coolest hoodies I have EVER seen!! Check out https://www.gamiss.com/hoodies

You can thank me next year for that one!

4. The MaxGear Business Card Holder will not only impress your clients, your clients’ clients will be likewise be impressed by the thumb-sliding feature. Business cards are dispensed one at a time when the user slides their finger over a button on the front of the cardholder. This thing is really cool looking and practical as well! A must for anyone who carries business cards.

5.  The best thing about it is you can find it on Amazon.Another very cool gift (also found on Amazon) is the Levin Natural Bamboo Charging Station. It’s unique as opposed to so many plastic or composite ones out there. You can also find assorted sizes to meet the needs of your recipient. The cords can be threaded through the bottom, so they can keep their desk free of tangled cords, and keep sticky fingers off their chargers…not that I would know anything about that.

6.  Tools of Titans -The gift of a book has ALWAYS been a classy move. In addition, a hardcover is even more stately. If they don’t read it, at least it looks nice on the shelf. I don’t see them not reading this one though- it is a gem. In it’s over 650 pages are tactics and philosophies of over 200 world-class performers interviewed by Tim Ferriss in his podcasts. There are so many that resonate with me- here are just two:

The first I have always felt strongly about. The second, I inadvertently know all too well, lol. I feel that will change soon though.

“Are you doing what you’re uniquely capable of, what you feel placed on Earth to do? Can you be replaced?”

“There is more freedom to be gained from practicing poverty than chasing wealth”

Find this baby on Amazon too. Didn’t they start off as a bookseller by the way??

7.  I’m going to switch gears here a bit and give you a humorous gift idea. Especially if your boss’ name starts with an “A”! It could be your inside joke- just tell them it’s a monogram. 😉

It’s a paperweight (not my favorite thing), but it’s an opportunity to “gift and jab” as I say…

The super cool part is that the a-hole paperweight is handcrafted from reclaimed steel in the studio of Fred Conlon in Salt Lake City, Utah. At $45 it’s not cheap- but it is unique and certainly fun to give. Find it here:  https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/a-hole-paperweight.

8.  Okay, so we have come to the last of the “great eight” as I call this list. If you know me at all, you know I DON’T have a sweet tooth. They are ALL sweet! I really love my sweets. When it comes to giving chocolate it’s important to be unique and of high caliber. Not to say your every day Hershey bar is chopped liver; it’s just that this list is meant to be of gift ideas that set you apart from the rest.

I am pretty informed when it comes to chocolate but was extremely impressed when I came across this site for the first time. There really IS a Maggie Louise (Callahan). Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, Callahan attended Virginia Tech undergraduate and Harvard Law School. She worked for a prestigious law firm in New York City and later as a venture capitalist in San Francisco. You will have to go to the site and read more, but just know that the creative confections company is based in Austin Texas and has absolutely STUNNING collections that will instantly land you on anyone’s list of “memorable” gift givers. The pricing is equally impressive as well, considering the quality.

Take a look at this page and you will have no choice but to concur:

https://www.maggielouiseconfections.com/s/holiday.html 

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read. I hope this list helps you.  I would love to hear your feedback. One more thing to be aware of;  I tried to spare you all the junk that comes with these lists: The advertisements that keep moving so that when you attempt to click your item to view, you accidentally pull up the sponsor’s website. The pop ups of related items, the garbage you must read just to find the item, etc., etc. It’s a nightmare. I took all those bullets for you and present you with my list for 2017 and beyond. Happy Shopping!

 

I did find TWO more bonus pics for you!

 

1.The first is for anyone who has ever been interested in 3D printing but thinks it’s waaaay in the future. Well the future is NOW and XYZ Printing brings it to you, among others. It has starter printers for under $200 and even a 3D PEN for $39!! (as of this update- check Amazon for even LOWER pricing after you read all about it on the XYZ site). This is the COOLEST thing out there for your “techie” person gift!

 

2. The second edition is a fully customizable LEGO figurine. Remember, this list, although mostly practical, was meant to be unique and memorable. This gift is certainly that. Check out Minifigs and create a gift that will leave them speechless! Of course…I’m referring to the figurine.  I don’t recommend the one pictured, but I chose one that would be fairly recognizable…

Oh, one more thing! I have had quite a few people ask me what would be a good gift for the “gamer” in their life. I have a GREAT one! If the gamer is over 18, this even more appropriate- give them this:  A JOB APPLICATION!

 

Okay, by popular request I have a fantastic gift for the wine drinkers on your list!

BONUS PICK

Croma Vera makes handcrafted, small-production wines – unique gifts for the wine lovers in your life.

Their holiday shipping special through the 17th includes:
  • A handwritten gift card.
  • $5 flat shipping in California. Minimum $38 purchase.
  • $25 flat shipping outside of California*. With a minimum $76 purchase, up to 6 bottles.

Check them out here:  Croma Vera Wines

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend, we wish you a Wonderful Holiday and a Fantastic New Year!

 

 

 

Go FCC Yourself!

 

The Net Neutrality argument is heating up once again. There is so much to learn and so much to understand, but I have compiled several articles that should help you gain a better understanding of it. In addition I have a link to the page that will help you find protest locations- either to join or stay away from depending on your point of view.

Here is the latest article about the protests taking place TOMORROW with the link to the locations  HERE

This is the entire article from arstechnica.com written today by Jon Brodkin:

Net neutrality protests start Thursday—how to find one near you

Protesters target “Verizon’s puppet FCC” in demonstrations at Verizon stores.

Net neutrality supporters plan a nationwide series of protests starting Thursday outside Verizon stores, where they will express their opposition to the pending repeal of net neutrality rules.

You can find local protests by going to this webpage and searching by ZIP code.

Verizon stores aren’t the only places where there will be protests. In Washington, DC, for example, there will be a protest at the annual FCC Chairman’s Dinner on Thursday. There will be another protest outside the FCC building on December 13, one day before the vote to repeal net neutrality rules. Many protests will be happening on Saturday as well.

“Verizon’s puppet FCC”

Protesters chose Verizon stores because Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was associate general counsel at the company between 2001 and 2003. Verizon has been a longtime opponent of net neutrality rules, having filed the lawsuit that led to a previous version of the rules being thrown out by a judge.

The protest organizers are advocacy groups Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press Action Fund.

“The new chairman of the FCC was a top lawyer at Verizon. Now he’s calling for a vote to kill net neutrality,” the groups say. “We’re protesting at retail stores across the US to demand that Congress stop Verizon’s puppet FCC from destroying the Internet as we know it.”

There could be some protests at the FCC meeting as well. Net neutrality supporters disrupted an FCC meeting in April this year with a “Rickroll”; they sang Rick Astley’s famous song but with modified lyrics proclaiming their love of common carriers.

There were also protests at a May 2014 meeting when the FCC was considering rules that would have allowed ISPs to charge websites for prioritization. The FCC eventually prohibited paid prioritization along with blocking and throttling in February 2015, but those rules are now being repealed by Pai’s Republican majority.

Here is another linked article from last month explaining a bit more:

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/11/net-neutrality-supporters-plan-nationwide-protests-on-december-7/

If you want a reaaalllly looong but good explanation here is THIS one from  ZDNet.com.

AND if you want to watch a funny video of John Oliver on the topic instead (Like this writer did…) then go here, it’s hilarious and educational: