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Be a Better Procrastinator with These Facebook Tips

Facebook is a great way to waste time. Don’t want to read that business report? Why not log onto your Facebook page? Not in the mood to put the finishing touches on that PowerPoint presentation? Now’s a good time to post about your upcoming family vacation to Disney.

But as good as you may be at procrastinating with Facebook, the odds are good that the following three tips — brought to us by the savvy tech writers at the New York Times’ Gadgetwise column — can boost your time-wasting skills.

Filtering Friends

Do you have a Facebook friend that posts far too often? Maybe there’s not a headline that goes by that this friend doesn’t forward. Maybe this friend posts what he ate at every lunch or what she thinks about every reality show on cable TV.

You need to block this friend’s posts. And you need to do it without resorting to a de-friending.

There is hope. As Gadgetwise says, Facebook lets you trim the content you receive in your news feed and filter out updates from specific sources. Find an update from a person you’d like to eliminate from your news feed and click on the arrow that pops up when you move your mouse’s cursor over the top right side of the update. A menu will show on the screen. Choose “unsubscribe from status updates” for that person to block messages.

Extending Messages, not Friendships

Here’s another nifty Facebook tip: You can send messages to people without first sending them a friend request. Simply go to the Facebook page of the non-friends to which you want to send messages. Search for the “message” button on the upper-right corner of the page. People who let others send them messages without first befriending them will have this button.

Connecting Facebook Chat to Other Services

Did you know that you can connect Facebook Chat to other services? It’s true. If you are a Hotmail user, you can link your Windows Live profile to Facebook. This allows you to chat with online friends directly from your mail window.

You can do the same with instant message services such as Yahoo messenger. Simply search Facebook for information on how you can connect your chat programs to the service.

Read more at Gadgetwise by clicking here.

Posted in: Business, Social Media Marketing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Take the Steps to Protect Your Business Accounts from Hackers

A recent New York Times story should serve as a warning to business owners: They may not be protected should a cyber criminal clear out their bank accounts.

The Times story highlights the 2010 case of an engineering and construction company in California that lost more than $125,000 when criminals hacked into its bank account, using the name and password of the office manager to route the money to eight banks across the country.

The shocking part of the story? Most business owners mistakenly believe that the protection they have on their personal bank accounts extends to their business accounts. In most cases, it doesn’t, and companies can permanently lose the money that hackers have stolen from them.

Keeping Hackers out of Your Business Accounts

How, then, can business owners protect their business accounts from hackers? The Times story recommends that business owners keep firewalls updated and limit the number of employees with access to their business bank accounts.

Businesses should never fall behind on applying security patches to their operating systems, the Times story recommends (and we do too!).

Changing Employee Behavior

Equally important, though, is for businesses to have in place and enforce strict rules monitoring employee behavior. Businesses should forbid employees from accessing social media sites on workplace computers. Businesses should also educate employees on how to recognize unusual links and email messages that might contain viruses or phishing scams.

These email attacks are fairly common. As the New York Times story says, employees might receive email messages that look like they are coming from the IRS or other government agencies. When employees open these messages and click on the links inside them, they might accidentally infect the business’ computer network.

Education is the Key

Attacks like this underscore an important fact: even the most advanced antivirus software can be useless unless employees are educated on safe Internet use.

In the California case cited by the Times, for instance, the company’s office manager had violated the business’ policy by visiting a social networking site from a work computer. The company says that this is probably how the manager’s computer became infected with malware that the company’s antivirus software did not detect.

Read more at The New York Times by clicking here.

Posted in: Business, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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What Does your Web Browser Say About Your Personality?

We all browse the web today. But we don’t all use the same browser. There are plenty of choices out there — everything from the traditional Explorer to Firefox, Opera and Chrome. But what does your choice of browser say about you? Plenty, according to a popular online quiz on Blogthings.com.

Jumping on the Latest Trends?

For instance, if you use Chrome, you’re willing to jump onto the latest trend, according to Blogthings. And you’re willing to do this even if all the details of these trends haven’t yet been nailed down. Chrome users, the website says, are also never satisfied with the status quo and are always striving for more.

But what if you use Firefox? According to Blogthings, you’re untamed and willing to buck the system. What if the Blogthings quiz says you’re Internet Explorer? Then you’re likely to be a down-to-earth person who plays by the rules. Opera users, according to the quiz, like to chart their own course to success. These users can adapt to any situation, the site says, with grace and style.

Explorer Still Number One

Of course, Internet Explorer is still the most popular web browser out there, according to the numbers. The website W3Counter says that Explorer holds a market share of 28.8 percent in the browser world. Second is Chrome, with 26.4 percent. Firefox comes in third with a market share of 23.3 percent, while Safari pulls up fourth with 6.2 percent. Opera ranks fifth with a market share of 2.3 percent.

Searching for the Right Browsers

The Blogthings quiz is fun, but a wide range of users rely on each of these browsers. Some people use more than one browser depending upon what they are using the Internet for at any given time. Our advice? Don’t just take the browser that comes with your computer. Sure, it might end up being your favorite one. But you’ll never know this until you try the competitors. You might find that some smaller browser out there is the perfect fit for you.

Read more at Blogthings: http://kbit.co/browser-personality

Posted in: Business, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Moving Beyond the Mouse: Connecting with Our Computers in the Future

We’ve already had a taste of mouse-free computing. Touchscreens on our smartphones and tablets allow us to search the Internet, compose email messages, send texts, and stream movies—all without using a mouse.

But what about the future? How will we interact with our computers in the coming decades? Once we ditch the mouse, what comes next?

Gesture sensing

Consumers who own Wii or PlayStation video games already have an idea. Both of these game systems offer users the chance to play games and explore the Web through wireless remotes that synch with body movements. Wii players can smack a tennis ball by swinging their hands when they hold a wireless remote. They can jog in place, climb a virtual mountain, or shoot menacing robots in the same way. This is known as gesture sensing. The tech isn’t quite ready for standard computing yet. However, it’s not difficult to imagine a future in which gesture sensing becomes one of the primary modes of interacting with our computers.

Multi-touch technology

But this is just one interaction innovation. There’s also multi-touch technology. Again, iPad and other tablet users are already familiar with this. By tapping icons on their screen, they can open apps and programs. By swiping their fingers across the screen, they can flip to a new page on a website. By pinching pages, they can zoom on an image to make it larger.

Voice recognition

Another likely tech jump involves voice recognition. Rather than clicking a mouse button to open a program, users can simply tell their computers to open a particular word file or close iTunes. Some of this already exists, most notably Siri, the personal assistant built into the iPhone 4S.

No matter what happens, though, the odds are that we’ll still rely at least somewhat on the humble mouse. After all, it’s served us well for many years.

Posted in: Business, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

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When it comes to predicting the future, science-fiction isn’t bad

We’re still waiting for our personal jet packs, and as far as we know, there aren’t any condos for sale on the moon. Surprisingly, though, the world of science-fiction has done a solid job of predicting the gadgets of the future.

Here’s a quick look at the tech we use today that was first dreamed up in science-fiction novels and movies.

1. Smart robots: Sure, we have plenty of robots. They help us build our cars and vacuum our rugs, but what about smart robots — metal beings that actually learn and show signs of a personality? So far, those are only present in science fiction, but according to a report by the Daily Mail, computer scientist and medical doctor Henry Markram is busy leading the efforts to create a robot that actually learns. The doctor’s prediction? His robot will be complete in 2018.

2. Automatic doors: Today, we take automatic doors for granted. It’s awfully nice to walk out the grocery store and have those glass doors swing open at our approach. However, as the editors at Business Insider point out, author H.G. Wells predicted this technology in his novel When the Sleeper Wakes. Turns out, Wells was prescient when it came to this bit of technology. (Digging to the center of the earth? Well, that one hasn’t come true just yet.)

3. Leaving our atmosphere: It’s difficult to imagine a more amazing achievement than blasting into space. Yet, we’ve become bored with NASA and its exploits. Back in 1961, though, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space, it was a pretty big deal. Author Jules Vern surely would have appreciated it. He fantasized about outer space travel way back in his novel From the Earth to the Moon, which was published in 1865.

4. Body scanners: Paste Magazine reminds us of that scene in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall in which our hero must undergo a full body scan when going through a security checkpoint. These body scans became commonplace at airports across the country starting in 2010.

5. iPads: As Britain’s The Guardian newspaper points out, the seminal science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, correctly predicted much of today’s technology. This includes the film’s astronauts staring into flat video devices, even while eating. Sounds a lot like the iPad.

Of course, science-fiction is far from perfect in its crystal ball capabilities. Here are two notable misses from the world of science-fiction:

1. Individual jet packs: This is probably the biggest disappointment. People still aren’t flying around with the help of their own personal jetpacks. We’re still stuck walking. Boo.

2. Meals in pill form: Anyone who’s running late for a big meeting can appreciate the meal in a pill. Just pop the pill and you’re full. No mess and no cooking. This, alas, has not yet come to pass. It’s fast-food chains for us when we need a quick bite.

Post Script
March in sci-fi history:

March 22, 1931—Born: William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk
March 26, 1931—Born: Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock
March 22, 1995—Premiered: sci-fi TV series “Sliders,” on Fox

Posted in: Business, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

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5 Simple Ways To Avoid Getting An Avalanche of Spam

As you probably already know from firsthand experience, once you’re on a spammer’s list, it’s next to impossible to get off. Changing your e-mail address can be a major inconvenience especially if you rely on it to stay in touch with important business and personal contacts.

To reduce the chances of your e-mail address getting spammed, here are 5 simple preventative measures you can take that will go a long way in keeping not-so-delicious spam out of your in-box.

1. Use a disposable e-mail address.
If you buy products online or occasionally subscribe to websites that interest you, chances are you’re going to get spammed.

To avoid your main e-mail address from ending up on their broadcast list, set up a free Internet e-mail address with Hotmail or Gmail and use it when buying or opting in to online newsletters. You can also use a throwaway e-mail address when making purchases or subscribing to newsletters (see #4).

2. Pay attention to check boxes that automatically opt you in.
Whenever you subscribe to a website or make a purchase online, be very watchful of small, pre-checked boxes that say, “Yes! I want to receive offers from third party companies.”

If you do not un-check the box to opt-out, your e-mail address will probably be sold to every online advertiser. To avoid this from happening, simply take a closer look at every online form you fill out.

3. Don’t use your main e-mail address on your website, web forums, or newsgroups.
Spammers have special programs that can glean e-mail addresses from websites without your permission. If you are posting to a web forum or newsgroup, use your disposable e-mail address instead of your main e-mail address.

If you want to post an e-mail address on your home page, use “info@” and have all replies forwarded to a folder in your in-box that won’t interfere with your main address or better yet include it as a graphic.

4. Create throwaway e-mail accounts.
If you own a web domain, all mail going to an address at your domain is probably set up to come directly to you by default. For example, an e-mail addressed to anything@yourdomain.com will be delivered to your in-box.

This is a great way to fight spam without missing out on important e-mails you want to get. The next time you sign up for a newsletter, use the title of the website in your e-mail address. For example, if the website is titled “successsecrets.com”, enter “successsecrets@yourdomain.com” as your e-mail address. If you get spammed, look at what address the spam was sent to.

If successsecrets@yourdomain.com shows up as the original recipient, you know the source since that e-mail address was unique to that web site. Now you can easily stop the spam by making any e-mail sent to that address bounce back to the sender.

5. Don’t open, reply to or try to opt-out of obvious spam e-mails.
Opening, replying to, or even clicking a bogus opt-out link in an obvious spam e-mail signals that your e-mail address is active, and more spam will follow.

The only time it is safe to click on the opt-out link or reply to the e-mail is when the message was sent from a company you know or do business with (for example, a company that you purchase from or a newsletter you subscribed to).

If you are still absolutely fed up with the number of spam e-mails you get every day, the annoying pop-ups when you surf the net, and advertisers installing spyware on your computer to monitor your every move and serve up unwanted ads, Trinity Worldwide Technologies can help recommend the proper solution for your organization. Please call us at 732-780-8615 for more information.

Posted in: Business, E-mail, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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New to Windows 7? These Tips Will Make You More Productive

Windows 7 represents a significant improvement over previous Windows operating systems. However, if you don’t know how to use this latest version of Windows properly, you’ll miss out on a host of goodies that’ll help you work more efficiently.

By mastering a few simple tricks, you’ll be able to get the most out of Windows 7.

Find and repair problems without outside help

Is your operating system acting strange? From the Control Panel, click “troubleshooting” to access a series of wizards that will resolve common operating problems. This includes cleaning up systems that are slowed by too much adware and other clutter.

Use AppLocker to block malware

What if you have younger members of the household who insist on installing cumbersome software to your computer? Install too much of this software, and your computer will turn into a sluggish mess.

AppLocker allows you to run and install only programs with your pre-approval. For instance, you can tell AppLocker to only run programs created by reputable companies such as Microsoft. If, say, your kids try to install a program from an unknown publisher, AppLocker will block it.

Preserve battery power

Windows 7 comes with its own power efficiency service. This allows you to access reams of information about how much power your laptop is consuming. This can be important if you’re working from a remote location and you’re not near a charging source.

Share the love

Finally, you can use a Windows 7-enabled computer as a software-based wireless router with the operating system’s Virtual Wi-Fi feature. If you enable Virtual Wi-Fi, any other Wi-Fi devices within range, including tablets and laptops, will view your computer as a new network. These devices will then be able to share your connection.

Posted in: Business, Computer Maintenance, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Customize Your Android Phone with These Three Tips

Android phones allow for an impressive amount of customization. Simply follow the tips below to create a smartphone that’s as unique as you are.

One-touch dialing

Are there certain numbers that you dial more frequently than others? With Android smartphones, you can set up one-touch dialing for those people whom you call the most. Simply press an open space on your screen and select the “Shortcuts” option. Then press Direct Dial and pick the right person from your list of contacts. Now you’ll be able to call that person simply by pressing a single button.

Home-screen shortcuts

You can customize your Android phone so that you spend less time searching for your favorite web pages, too, by moving your top websites directly to your phone’s home screen.

Do this by pressing and holding onto any site listed in your browser’s bookmarks. Soon, a list of options will pop up. Press the “Add Shortcut to Home” option, and the selected web page will now appear on your phone’s home page.

Organizing with folders

By creating folders on your Android phone, you can better organize everything from your contacts to your most important work documents by grouping these items into their own folders.

For instance, you can create a folder reserved specifically for your most frequently called contacts. If you’re working on an important project for work, you can create a new folder that’s reserved for documents, Web addresses, and contact numbers related to this particular project.

To create folders, press on a blank space on your phone’s screen. When your list of options pops up, press “Folders.” This will allow you to create your own folder and name it. You can then drag and drop important documents, images, and files into these folders.

Posted in: Business, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How the Hybrid Cloud Differs from the Public Cloud

Cloud computing has certainly caught on among business owners. No surprise there: the cloud offers more computing power, cheaper storage, seamless scalability and the simplicity that comes with someone else taking care of your servers.

But there’s a catch. To take advantage of cloud software and infrastructure, you’ve got to give up some control over your data … Or do you?

Have your cloud and your privacy too

Here’s the thing: not all clouds are the same. There’s the public cloud, the one with which we’re most familiar. But then there’s the hybrid cloud too. As its name suggests, the hybrid cloud is a combination of two different types of clouds, public and private. The hybrid cloud can give your business all of the benefits listed in the first paragraph (power, affordability, scalability and simplicity) without the tradeoffs that come with entrusting your data to an unknown (or unresponsive) quantity.

How might that work in practice? Here’s an example: A business provides some resources in-house. For instance, it might store current consumer data on its private in-house cloud. It might also store employee records, new marketing campaigns, and current proposals to new clients on its in-house storage.

That same business, though, might store older, archived data on a public cloud service. This frees up space on the business’ servers, and allows its in-house computers to operate more efficiently.

At the same time, taking a hybrid cloud approach to data storage allows businesses to take advantage of the space-saving benefits of the public cloud without also exposing their sensitive current data to third-party providers. In other words, the hybrid cloud provides businesses with security, cost-savings, and efficiency.

Why the hybrid cloud approach makes sense

It’s little wonder, then, that so many businesses today are moving toward a hybrid cloud approach. There is simply too much data floating around today for smaller businesses to adequately store. At the same time, businesses in today’s competitive environment don’t want to expose company secrets and sensitive consumer data to either their rivals or hackers.

The hybrid cloud allows businesses to have the best of both worlds.

Posted in: Business, Cloud Computing, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

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7 Deadly Sins of Web Surfing

These days, using the Internet is one of the most dangerous daily activities that you can undertake.  Admittedly, the odds of bodily harm, other than carpal tunnel, are slim.  The real danger lies in the potential impact web browsing can have on your personal identity and financial standing.  Every computer connected to the Internet is a target of malware, viruses, and spyware, all of which are secretly installed onto your PC.  The individuals behind these have one purpose in mind – to collect personal information about you and make money from what they learn about you.

Here are seven things you can do that can help you avoid the dangers:

  1. Don’t have a good hardware firewall router.  Not having a good, separate active hardware firewall between your PC and your modem will let hackers have access to your network.  A firewall is designed to permit or deny network traffic based upon a set of rules and it protects your networks from unauthorized access while permitting legitimate communications to pass.  You want the firewall to have Denial of Service (DoS) protection and use Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) to protect your network.  (Just look for these on the box.)
  2. Don’t keep your Antivirus updated.  With new viruses coming out every day, one sure way to get a virus is to not update your antivirus product.  It’s bad enough that new viruses can get through prior to the software companies devising a way to stop them, but once a solution is devised, you want to get it.  Update this daily.
  3. Don’t have antispyware.  Spyware infections are just as dangerous as viruses.  They secretly collect pieces of information about you.  With spyware present on your system, you may open yourself up to identity theft and credit card fraud.  You don’t want your PC “phoning home” with your personal information.  Run an antispyware program at least weekly.
  4. Don’t keep your web browser updated.  It’s important to keep your web browser up-to-date with the latest patches.  Patches are coming out much more frequently now than ever before.  Familiarize yourself with the built-in safe surfing features, and tweak the settings to ensure a high degree of protection.  The browser providers realize that they have competition and that customers are expecting them to help provide a safe browsing experience.  Check for updates weekly.
  5. Don’t keep Windows updated.  Again, patch management is a key to keeping your systems secure.  Microsoft sends out security updates once a month on “Patch Tuesday”.  This is usually the second Tuesday of each month.  Run the Windows Update as soon as they come out.  This protects you from exploits to your from your OS, other Windows components, and the Microsoft Office Suite.  Updates for other Windows products such as Microsoft Security Essentials (highly recommended) and Windows Defender are sent out much more frequently.
  6. Click on Pop ups.  Never click on a pop up – whether it is from an antivirus program, Adobe, some other software, or any other so-called updates.  Always go to the website directly to update any programs on your PC.  Follow this golden rule -> If you are not sure, or even if you are sure, never ever click.
  7. Click on a link in an Email – especially if they are from a bank, credit card company, or services like Paypal.  Only click on these if you want to let the world have your personal information.  Never believe an email.  Always go directly to the website by opening up a new browser session and do whatever you need to do.  The same goes for Emails from social media sites.

Identifying where a link goes.  One trick – If you hover over a link with your mouse, is should display the destination website in the bottom left or right of your web browser.  Be sure to look at the last “www” address if there is more than one, as the last is the destination website.

Example:  www.website.com/…./www.badwebsite.com

Here is a link where you can find some great information and explanations about malware – http://www.kaspersky.com/threats_faq.  If you have any questions about the security of your IT network, Trinity Worldwide Technologies can help you by assessing your specific IT environment and recommending the proper security measures for your organization.  Please call us at 732-780-8615 for more information.

Posted in: Business, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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