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Month: March 2016

Let’s Encrypt The World

lets-encrypt-logoI have been a big fan of free SSL certificate authority LetsEncrypt.org since it was in Private Beta. Now in Public Beta, and now being a Certificate Authority recognized by every major web browser, it’s time for you to start using it on your website!

The great thing about Let’s Encrypt is that it is free. Why? Because the sponsors behind it believe encryption is for the public good. And they are correct. No more do you need to pay $80/year or more for an SSL certificate through some company like GoDaddy. This all may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t.

Wait, what?

In case you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about here, LetsEncrypt.org offers you free SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates for your website. This make your website secure and encrypted for your visitors, just like your bank does, by changing your site’s address from using http://  to https://.

Being a user of the WHM/CPanel web hosting tools for the handful of websites I run, I found a great set of instructions and scripts you can use to get this set up and running in that environment. Just follow the instructions in the WHM forum here. Be sure to set up the cron job so that your cert(s) get renewed automatically. If you forget, it’s very easy to do it by hand from the command line, but the cron job makes it so that you don’t need to remember.

Encrypt WordPress

If you are a WordPress website owner, you can configure it to use the SSL certificate by editing your site’s URL in Settings > General. I especially recommend this for WordPress admin area logins, but there’s not reason you shouldn’t be using SSL on your whole site anymore. This is especially true considering Google favoring SSL-enabled sites over non-SSL sites.

Redirect Traffic to HTTPS

Using an .htaccess file, you can set it up so that any traffic going to your http:// website is automatically redirected to your https:// version. This is the snippet I use in my .htaccess file for that:

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI}

Go forth and encrypt all the things!

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Tech Savvy Family: Best Computer Games For All Of You

Computer technology has come a long way over the last decades. It wasn’t long ago that having a PC in your home was seen as an extravagance, today we all seem to have handheld devices, and with Apple products on the market, there is a stream of laptops, mobiles, and tablets. Some houses have a laptop for each of the members. It has been the world that grew enormous, really fast.

So, we accept that tech is here, and it is here to stay. Now we need to work out how to get everyone together in the living room and to start socializing, instead of staring at their personal device. We have some of the best games for the whole family, so check them out below.

We’ll start off with the PC as that is where computing all began. One of the hot games was World of Warcraft, and now there is a pretty great version the family can all get involved with World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.  Ok, so we admit there may be a few of you thinking “seriously, this is the best you’ve got, ’ but this is a great fun game which even the youngest members of your family can enjoy.  It might be worth investing in a couple of computer screens for this. Mike from GamingBuff has published an exclusive guide about the best gaming monitors which could give you some ace ideas for other games too.

Heading over to the coolest family console on earth, the Wii is still going strong, even the early version. You can get together and play sports, dance yourself crazy around the living room, go bowling without even leaving the house. The Wii bought the family together and got us laughing over one computer, and we don’t think Nintendo have ever made such an excellent machine. The graphics are clumsy, but that is part of the charm! Get everyone away from the Apple and onto the wii!

Xbox offers up the Just Dance series, providing you have Kinect you can play this game with your whole family. It gets you moving too so can be fun for older members of the house who could do with a little exercise. There is a host of dance moves from modern day to classics from the Dirty Dancing movie; you may need to consider your talent before you start flinging your arms in the air, though! You will also find other interactive games like this, including Guitar Hero. Noisy but fun!

Of course, Mario Kart is probably one of the most loved games amongst the computer generation. There is something about the lovable plumber that gets us all going; even the annoying music becomes a chirpy ditty once you have got into the game. While it may not be so familiar with older members of the family, anyone under the age of 50 is probably going to enjoy themselves, sometimes for hours!

Make sure you take lots of rests when you are playing computer games. You remember the old saying; you’ll get square eyes!

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How Private Is Your Internet Use

There’s a school of thought out there that says internet privacy is nothing but a fantasy. And on one level, this is true. The leaks revealed by Edward Snowden showed that if the powers to be really want to know what you’re doing online, they’ll have no trouble looking you up. But most people don’t really get flagged up on the government’s radar. Still, it’s not just terrorists and the like who need to be concerned about internet privacy. It can affect individuals, too.

Leaving a Trail

If you’re involved at all in marketing or the like, you’ll know that there are vast amounts of data available to you. If you’re not involved directly, then you should be aware that advertisers have amazingly detailed information about, well, you. The majority of websites you visit will place a cookie in your browser that’ll follow you from one click to the next.

In the future, this information will almost certainly be able to be used to create a web of your history – and if that falls into the wrong hands, then…tough! The two worst offenders – though they happily admit it – are Google and Facebook, who record just about everything you do and sell this information on to marketers, who are then able to create highly specific ads tailored just for you.

Paying More For The Privilege

The web of YOUR LIFE that is created isn’t just used by others to make money off the back of your browsing habits, it can actively cost you money. How? Well, if you’ve been searching for, say, ‘cheap flights to New York’, and visit a website that has an attractive price but don’t book it, you might return later on and find that the price has mysteriously shot up a little. They know you’re already looking for those tickets, so they try and make more money off you.

Tricks and Tips

They are ways to get around this. One simple way is to use incognito mode when you’re browsing for things you might by or which you’ve searched for in the past. There are also benefits to using a VPN. Take a look at those listed on securethoughts.com and you’ll be able to hide your location, which makes it much more difficult for websites to build up a data block on your browser characteristics (and also helps you get around geo-blocked sites!). It’s akin to being anonymous online, which is getting more and more difficult. If you’re really concerned about the data, you can also use a service like http://suicidemachine.org/ and get rid of all your social media sites forever.

What’s On Your Phone?

It’s not just on our laptops that we need to be concerned about internet privacy. Your smartphone apps can make you life more efficient and entertaining, but you might want to think about what data you’re handing over just by having the app on your phone. Many track your location even when you’re not using it and have access to all your phone contacts. That’s a lot of unnecessary info they’re taking from you!

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The Decline of Cash

There are plenty of Sci-Fi movies that depict a world in which everything is controlled by a single piece of technology. All transactions and communications are made through high-tech devices that once seemed far out of reach. These days, it’s starting to look more familiar. We already have smartphones that do most things for us, and a move towards completely digital currency doesn’t seem that far away.

Only eight percent of the world’s currency is in cash form. This change is happening for a number of reasons but primarily because it is just more efficient. International bank transfers can be completed in under ten minutes, and personal transfers will appear in your bank account almost immediately.

Removing physical money completely could also help to reduce some crimes. Muggings and thefts, for example, would be a lot more difficult if you couldn’t access any of the money without a pin number or fingerprint.

New technologies are paving the way for the digital payment age and cash is fast declining. Some of these technologies may be familiar, and you probably use some of them already, but there are others that you may not be aware of.

Contactless Payments

Contactless payments have taken off in a big way over the last few years. Most bank cards that are issued come with the feature. Although it is more efficient that cash payment, it offers less security because you do not need a pin number.

This is being dealt with in the form of contactless payments on smartphones. Fingerprint scanners are becoming more commonplace and when combined with contactless technology, you get an entirely safe payment method that only you can use. The only problem being that if you lose your phone, you’ve also lost your wallet as well.

Cryptocurrency

You may have heard of one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin. It made headlines when it was linked to the selling of illegal goods on the dark web. But Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency around, and they are not just used for criminal activity. Click here for more information on exactly how cryptocurrency works.  

Cryptocurrency itself is perfectly legal and is a good alternative for people that don’t want to use their bank details online. Lots of major companies including Amazon and Virgin Atlantic are now accepting cryptocurrency.

The Dangers of Digital Money

Unfortunately, as the world evolves, its criminals evolve with it. In recent years there has been stories of thefts from contactless cards. It is possible to set up card reading equipment and make transactions by walking close enough to somebody who has a contactless card in their pocket.

Cybercrime is also on the rise and governments are struggling to keep up with criminals. Ddos attacks have been used to bring down the systems of some of the biggest governments in the world. They work by flooding a network with huge amounts of traffic, crashing them completely. If all of our money was stored digitally, then an attack like this could disrupt the entire global financial system.

So, embrace the new technology, but be aware of it’s downfalls. And maybe keep a bit of cash under the mattress just in case.

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Invest With The Best – Which Tech Niches Will Thrive This Year?

Technology companies tend to make significant profits if they remain at the cutting edge. That is why so many people choose to invest their savings in buying shares. However, tech comes and goes, and so you need the most recent information if you want to do that. The last thing anyone wants is to put their money in a niche that’s on its way out. With that in mind, we’ve taken the time to list some of the most thriving technology niches around today. Hopefully, the info will help you to make the right decisions if you plan to invest this year.

Telecoms

The telecoms industry is always a safe place for investors because everyone owns a smartphone these days. Apple releases new products every year, and most people want the latest devices. Even so, it’s wise to invest in a smaller company if you want to make the highest profits. Look for a firm that’s just arranged to lease a cell tower, and perform as much research as possible. The level of risk you face will increase when opting for a new brand. However, as the old saying goes, the only way is up. While investments in established operations are stable, you wouldn’t make a significant profit. So, look for the newest businesses on the market for the best outcomes.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has become big business during the last couple of years. However, the market still hasn’t reached its potential. For that reason, now is the best time to invest in companies within that niche. There are lots of VR devices available today, and many of them are selling thousands of units. You could make a substantial profit if you find the right firms and get in touch. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until they appear on the stock market to make your investment. For the best results, you need to put your money in a firm that’s just about to explode. That way, you could see a return that sets you up for life.

Gaming

Specialist gaming brands make millions of dollars in profit every single year. Indeed, just take a look at how much Sony and Microsoft make from their consoles. There are also lots of firms that sell accessories and other items associated with the market. Investors just need to perform research to ensure they’re making the right decision. Ideally, you’ll want to find a new company that’s about to release something that will become exceptionally popular. Gaming news blogs are probably the best places to source the information you require. So, bookmark many of them and check them every day.

Now you know about some of the most thriving tech niches around today, we hope you will make conservative investments. When all’s said and done, there is always an element of risk involved. However, you can increase your chances of seeing a healthy return if you do the groundwork. Just take a look at some of the companies in which other investors seem to be putting their money. In most instances, you just need to replicate their actions.

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The All-Rounder: An Essential Component?

Diversity is the buzzword for the 21st century. It is a term synonymous with change, progression, and excelling in every way, and your business needs to start to embody the same tenets. It is the only way to push forward in industry. The underlying truth of the nature of work in the age of now is that we need to make sure that every part of our business wears as many hats as possible. It makes sense from a company perspective, a staff perspective, and from the perspective of industry. So for those that run organizations that are in dire need of direction, what does being an all-rounder do for the long-term future?

The first place to look is in the job market itself. Look at the types of jobs that are emblazoned over any standard jobs board, digital communications, B2B, outsourcing, and countless others that are intrinsically linked with technology. These types of roles did not exist over 15 years ago, and with the dot.com boom in the early 21st century, we only just began to see the potential of what the Internet can do for us. Now it is the most integral important part, not just in business, but in our lives. There are countless startup companies that earn their crust by SEO marketing techniques, PPC marketing, affiliate marketing, or blogging. The internet is the trendsetter for the modern age of business. And with this climate comes roles that have no comparison with the climate of 20 years ago. It may as well have been 100 years ago! As the market is chock-full of computerized careers and the Internet is a vast breeding ground for new clients and customers, everyone is trying to get their slice of the pie. This means that every entrepreneur with a dream and a loan starts up their own company and works for themselves. The role of the entrepreneur has blown up completely in the last 6 or 7 years. Entrepreneurs are lone-wolfs, and the role requires detailed knowledge of every area of business, which then means that one skilled roles are slowly dying away. And these entrepreneurs need to learn each skill of the business they are running in order to stay afloat, which is why 9 out of 10 startups fail. In order to thrive in the industry, you need to be multi-skilled or get swept away with the tide.

What does this mean for the common everyday worker? The generation that is going through school, or college, and will be unleashed on the world in a few years need to be hardwired to adapt with constant trends and changes. The thing that will dictate these trends? Technology. The ever-expanding tech and demand for new and faster capabilities mean that everyone needs to pedal harder to catch up. Just about every single role in business demands some level of technological proficiency. It is paining to see those over the age of 60 that are unable to keep up with the changes try to make their way through a basic spreadsheet program. I don’t say this in an ageist way, but it is plain to see in businesses that are part of the fabric of the country, that the generation gap is very wide, and the progression of technology seems to say “catch up or get put on the scrapheap!” Couple this with an increase in demand from customers and clients and a decrease in funds, it means people have to spread themselves over a few different roles. The nature of the ability to diversify before a role has even been applied for is a skill that many employers look upon favorably. It means that employers can spend less money on hiring one person that does 3 jobs, rather than 3 people who do one job each. It is just more common sense. How do the workers feel about the diversification in their roles? On the one hand, it means that the very nature of the work on a daily basis is extremely varied, with no letup in pace it makes the day fly by, and nobody could say that it is boring, but there is the stress factor. Too little stress is bad for you, too much stress is very bad for you. Where does the line get drawn? We now feel the pinch a lot more, whatever role we have in a company. From the CEO to the toilet cleaner, the constant barrage of “target, target, target” is an anxiety attack waiting to happen, especially if the worker feels that they are coerced into doing another set of duties, ones they are not especially skilled in. What is the best way to deal with this? As workers are likely to be supremely skilled in one area but feel that they are just getting by with another, nurturing skills, and additional training can help to give staff members more confidence in their overall abilities. Companies like www.elliswhittam.com/ benefit by teaching companies skills they lack in, contributing to their all-round potential. As the confidence increases and staff members feel more competent in their ability to tackle more roles in the allotted timescale (the working week), they will work better overall. While it is a more a prerequisite for people to be multi-skilled now, by nurturing their existing abilities while building up on others, it is a more organic process to encourage, instead of piling pressure on your staff which can lead to burnout and fewer people to tackle the workload!

Why will your business suit the all-rounder approach? Going back to penny-pinching, each area of your business will feel the pressure. Whether this is to cut costs or to stretch staff members to their limit, these are approaches that will make the best impression when your business is making its ascendance. Startups and small companies thrive in this type of environment, and it makes a personal impact on your teams. This is why you should promote a working atmosphere that is thriving and encouraging. The old factory line mentality has no place in the modern workplace. There is more demand for flexibility, and people’s home lives are busier so you may wish to implement the remote running of an office to give people an opportunity to work from home. These small touches will go a long way to promote job satisfaction, which they will need when being asked to do more than one role. This also works wonders when you are looking to restructure. If you get to the point where you can upscale, or your business needs a big shake-up, it is a much easier task to accomplish. The other, very important, factor when it comes to a workplace culture is the eradication of apathy. It is a common saying, “that’s not my job,” which can be a major grating, professionally and personally, in a company. The positive by-product of this is an increase in collaboration. Collaboration is promoted a lot more now, and the most thriving and dynamic of companies look for the best ways to embed a culture of transparency. By having all-rounders take the lead, it can make for a lot more healthier discussion and an increase of ideas, which will further improve the company in more than just profit…

The all-rounder is an essential in modern business. The sheer dynamics, coupled with the need to cut costs encourages people to better prepare themselves for industry by upskilling in more than one specialty area. Will this prove to be a good fit for your company? Only time will tell. But for the moment, the all-rounder is here to stay.

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