Professional News and Stuff

e835b30e2ff0033ecd0b470de7444e90fe76e6d319b8104796f5c2_150_hackerI found out today that I get to speak at WordCamp Asheville in June. I’ll be presenting on WordPress security. I had to miss WordCamp last year, so I’m excited about being able to attend, and even more so about speaking. I hope to see you all there!

A little more than a week ago, I completed my Certified Ethical Hacker training and am now, certifiably, an ethical hacker.

I also passed the written half of the Certified Penetration Tester exam at that time, and am working on the second half over the next couple of weeks. I hope to get it wrapped up and be able to add that to my credentials.

Enough horn tooting. What’s up in your world?

Back To Basics: Why Your Broadband Is Slow

In internet times gone by, if a page was loading slowly, we’d have shrugged our shoulders. There was a time when looking at a single image was a half-hour task, though we’ve forgotten it as broadband and fiber speeds have made the dark days of 2000 seem a very long time ago.

Now, if our broadband is slow, then we’re furious – and we want answers. Before you jump on the phone to your provider and tell them they have ripped you off, there’s a few troubleshooting basics that we all have a tendency to forget. We insist to ourselves it can’t be those causes, without ever actually bothering to run through them.

Except…

Before we launch into the basics, if the problem is chronic, then it’s worth noting it might be your provider. This is the point where the speed you were promised, you realize, contains two horrible little words before it: “up to”. Not a guaranteed speed, but one they sort of hope you might be able to get… but of course, have no obligation to provide. Gotta love small print.

If your contract is up, then by all means shop around. Talk to your existing provider, browse through the best Verizon FiOS internet deals and see what might catch your eye. There’s no way of guaranteeing it’s not your provider that’s at fault, so there’s no harm in being aware, but most often the cause will be…

1. A Bad Connection

Even if you haven’t moved it from the day you installed it, there’s every chance there’s a loose link in your wiring. Go and check it. Yes, it’s annoying, and yes, it probably isn’t that – but it’s going to be the first question your provider asks you anyway. You might as well just do it.

This is a good time to try the speed by trying a wired connection if you usually connect with Wifi. That should give you a better idea if it’s an actual problem with the supply speed itself, or if the kink is coming elsewhere in the process.

2. TMI

TMI as in, there’s way too much information on your computer. Got thousands of tabs open? That alone might be your problem. Go on a shutdown spree; there are even apps that can make tab management easier. It’s always worth checking to see if you have video or audio playing on a tab you’re not using; sometimes they are automatically muted, so you might not necessarily know about them. Auto-playing media is one of the most annoying things about being online today, and that’s before you even get to the fact it could slow your connection to a crawl.

3. Wifi Interference

“But,” you may be thinking, “you told me to check it wasn’t a Wifi specific problem…”

That’s true, but if it is Wifi-specific, you still need to know what might be causing it.

There are a variety of things that can interfere with your Wifi connection, but the prime suspect is a cordless landline phone. Always try and install the cradle for such phones far from your router.

And if none of these provide an answer? Now you can call your provider.

Late Adopters: Can You Learn To Love Technology?

It is fair to say that it is increasingly difficult to get on in modern life without some understanding or appreciation of the importance of technology.

Of course, it’s not impossible. There are still people who have a standard phone rather than the latest smart phone, who would rather send a carrier pigeon than an email. For the most part, however, these are the Luddite holdouts, aching for a time gone by that isn’t going to return again.

For everyone else, accepting the advantages of more technology in our lives is an inevitable. For some people, that will come naturally – they will take to tech like a duck to water. They will be able to deal with a laptop freaking out on them, wire in their new TV, and use apps for things they used to use pen and paper for. For this lucky section of society, they are free and clear – they’re tech compatible, so to speak.

If you don’t fall into this section of society, it can feel like you’re being left behind. You don’t get it.

While there is no easy fix for these things, you can begin to ease yourself into this brave new world with a few steps. Being completely tech-savvy might not be at the end of the tunnel, but tech competent is definitely something to aim for!

Step 1: Appreciate The Importance Of Tech

If you don’t truly understand how important technology can be, you’ve got a mental block against it. You might be able to pay good lip service to it, but that doesn’t mean that you truly understand how it’s revolutionized lives.

It’s not just personal lives either; it’s business and innovation. Take the advent of internet shopping; a whole new sector of industry (and a big one) that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Tech has now made it possible for mail to be sorted, receipts printed, tracked, and delivered faster than anyone would ever have thought possible. If you work remotely, you can talk to a customer while you’re out of the office, organize for their delivery, print out their label on Zebra portable printer, send it to them and then track the progress of the delivery – all in a single day. That’s the kind of process that would have taken a week 50 years ago.

Tech is making life easier for everyone, for business and personal use. The above is just one example, and until you truly embrace the potential of technology (rather than seeing it as nothing but a method of time wasting, as many people do), then you’re not going to get it.

Step 2: Build Up Slowly

Don’t throw yourself into learning how to code or advanced app development; start with the very basics. The very best way of learning how to use various technology is to try it and see. You’re not going to set the device on fire, so don’t be afraid to push buttons and see what happens. If you do something wrong, there will be a reset feature. To truly learn, you can’t be led through the process – you have to have the patience to make mistakes until you learn for yourself.

Step 3: Get Help

If there’s something you don’t understand, ask for clarification. You can ask a friend or you can post online (which has the benefit of being anonymous). Too many people who don’t understand or use tech have problems with admitting that they don’t know what they’re doing – but how else are you going to learn?

6 Ways Drones are Set to Change the World

Unless you’ve been living in a nuclear bunker for the past few years, you can’t fail to have noticed the hype surrounding drones. From delivering your packages from Amazon to delivering takeaways to hungry students, they have been hailed as a coming revolution in the way we all live our lives. But what’s the truth about these unmanned aircraft we’ve been hearing so much about?

Well, the truth is that although drones haven’t replaced the UPS man yet, there is a good chance they will do that, and many other things, in the future. Here are just some of the ways that drones are set to change the world:

Package Delivery

In an Interview on ’60 Minutes’ Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos noted that more than 85 percent of all orders from the site weigh in at fewer than 5 pounds. This is notable simply because that makes them light enough to be carried by drones. Since then, Amazon have started testing drones that can deliver products within 30 minutes of an order being made. Other companies, including Google, have also started trials into their own drone services

Although testing has been initiated, there are still a number of issues, which will need to be ironed out, not least the impact on other air traffic and the possibility of theft, before drones are likely to be rolled out across the country. It will happen one day though, and we’ll be able to get our packages in record time when it does!

Warehouse Use

Another company that has started to look to drones for solutions to its most common problems is Walmart, who have started looking into ways that drones can be used within their warehouses. The company hopes that using drones to catalog its inventory and move stock around will cut down on costs. Of course, this could also mean fewer warehouse jobs in the future.

Farming

Another area where software product development is being used to make the most out of drones is in the agriculture industry. Farmers are starting to use drones to monitor the health of their crops and identify areas where additional fertilizer, water or pesticides may be useful.  Some drones have even been modified so that they can spray crops from above. This cuts down significantly on the amount of work they have to do to keep their crops healthy, and can only be seen as a positive by anyone in the industry, so it is only a matter of time before we see drones used in farming as a matter of course.

Delivering Humanitarian Aid

As many as 2.1 billion people on Earth are unable to access the most basic of medicines they need to stay healthy, and this is primarily because they live in areas that are difficult to access. In order to change this situation and ensure that medicine is available to more people who need it Zipline – a drone manufacturer based in California – made a deal with the Rwandan government to deliver medication via drone which can travel within a 50-mile radius. Medication can be requested by Health Centers in the area via text message, making the whole process as simple as possible, and ensuring that more lives are saved as a result.

Law Enforcement

Back in 2015, the Michigan State Police were given the approval to use a quadcopter in order to respond to incidents, access suspicious situations and even conduct search and rescue operations in the area. This significantly cut down on the manpower needed to conduct these kinds of operations, so it is highly-likely that other police forces across the globe will get on board with the drone revolution in the near future.

Insurance Claims

Another area where drones are likely to be used more and more in the future is in the insurance industry. If, for example, a building is damaged in a storm or because there has been a fire, a drone can be sent to take pictures of the damage, which can be used by insurance companies to validate and calculate claims, which should mean that claims can be handled much more quickly than they are now when an adjuster has to be sent out to investigate each and every claim.

As you can see, drones are here to stay, and they are able to do a lot of the boring and complicated tasks that humans currently have to do for themselves. Although this will undoubtedly benefit many people, and it will certainly benefit a lot of businesses, there is likely to be some fallout as some jobs become obsolete, too. So we will just have to sit back and see how the drone revolution pans out.

Common Business Internet Woes – Tackled

It’s difficult to imagine any business these days running without the use of the Internet. Even businesses you can think of that don’t really seem to have an online presence probably use the Internet for research and buying supplies.

So it seems that businesses should have gotten used to the idea that they need to make sure their Internet problems are minimized. Unfortunately, as many of you have probably experienced for yourself, your average place of business still has a plethora of Internet issues!

If you run a businesses, then it’s vital that you take care of any of these common and infuriating Internet problems. They ruin productivity and employee satisfaction, so take the time to find solutions!

Distractions

The first problem business owners usually think of distracted employees – and there’s no doubt that it’s a problem! Inappropriate web surfing is rife in the modern office for several reasons. Not only is an ethically-questionable use of company time, but it also presents usability problems. If people are watching YouTube videos instead of working, than not only are they, y’know, not working, but they’re also being bandwidth hogs, potentially slowing down the Internet speed for everyone else! Speaking of which…

Slowdown

The most notorious problem of all. Slow office Internet absolutely destroys your productivity potential. And, as anyone who has ever had to deal with slow Internet knows all too well, it’s also incredibly frustrating, making your employees feel more stressed. Making sure bandwidth is being responsibly is one thing, but you may need to look at working with a more reliable ISP if the problem persists. The problem may also be partly an issue of physics. After all, users who are farther away from the Wi-Fi source may find they have to fight against slower Internet than everyone else. If might be worth looking into the best WiFi range extender you can get. This helps you get the full WiFi blast across your office, instead of allowing that power to peter out for people who don’t happen to have their desk next to the router.

Filters and restrictions

One of the ways you can prevent distractions at work is by using web filters and restrictions to prevent employees going on websites that you don’t want them visiting. The problem here is that it prevents you from accessing a lot of useful websites. After all, social media is often required for marketing, customer service, or research purposes. Then you need to consider breaks – why block employees from accessing those websites then? It may actually create more problems than it solves. It also screams “WE DON’T TRUST YOU” to the employees, which hardly helps with morale.

Security problems

Malicious content like viruses, trojans, and worms. Unauthorized access from persons internal and external. A lack of encryption making it easy for outside parties to gain access to information. These are all problems you need to tackle because they’re all problems of which you’re at risk, regardless of how small your business is. Make sure you invest in tight web security measures, and ensure you have strong and clear Internet security policies for your employees to follow.

Pension Mistakes That Are on the Rise Right Now

If you are planning on retiring at some point in the future, you’re going to need to start thinking about your pension and the plan you have in place for it. That means everyone is going to need to think about this at some point, and sooner is usually better than later. However, just because people do pay attention to their pensions, that doesn’t mean that they always get it right. There are a lot of mistakes out there that get made a lot.

Making mistakes related to your pension is risky, and it’s something that you shouldn’t let happen if you can help it. When mistakes get made, your entire future can be put in jeopardy, which is not what you want to happen at all. Unfortunately, as more people learn about the perils that can hit them if they enter retirement without enough money, more mistakes are getting made. The mistakes that are on the rise right now are discussed below. Make sure you don’t make them too.

Big Withdrawals

People who withdraw too much from their pension pots usually end up regretting it later. It might seem like a reasonable thing to do right now. But you might not have that same attitude in a few years time. It’s important to remain sensible and keep thinking about the future because that’s what matters most. Pensions are not about the here and now, or what you want to spend money on next month. They’re about making your financial situation secure and stable for a long time to come. So, keep on top of this and don’t withdraw much money from your pension pot. And if you do, make sure you have a plan in mind for investing it so that the overall amount grows not decreases in the long-term.

Relying on Your Partner to Take Care of Things

Many people simply let their partner take care of their pension situation for them. This is pretty normal, and it can seem like a sensible thing to do. But no relationship is 100% secure. You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, nevermind what might happen a year from now. That’s why it’s always best to take personal responsibility for your pension arrangements. That way, you won’t be left in the lurch trying to work out the situation for yourself later on if you no longer have our partner to do things for you. There is no one better placed to oversee your pension planning arrangements than you. Of course, you can get professional help along the way, but you should retain control.

Assuming You’re Too Young to Start Planning

It’s common for people to feel like they’re too young to start worrying about their pension and their retirement. But when it comes to retirement planning, there is no such thing as too young. You can get started at any time, and there is no need to believe that you have to wait until you’re in your 50s to begin. Yes, when you’re young finding the financial resources to simply get by can be tricky. But it’s still worth trying to find a bit of extra money each month that can be stored away for your retirement. And you should also get involved in your employer’s pension scheme too.

Not Handling Debt Correctly

Debt is a burden at the best of times. But if you still have significant debts hanging over your head when you enter retirement, it just makes your life harder than it ought to be. You don’t have the income to offset those debts and eventually clear them. That’s why it’s much better to pay off your debts as soon as possible, ideally when you’re still in full-time work. That way, you can enter retirement without this worry in your mind. Failing to handle debt properly while you’re in middle age can really punish you when you’re retired. Don’t make the same mistake so many others have in the past.

Not Getting the Right Help and Advice

Going it alone is not always the best thing to do when you’re trying to plan your retirement. Although it can be tempting, it’s often better to get the right advice and professional financial help. This will help you to make the right decisions regarding funds, bonds and stock investments you might have. These days, you have to invest in some way if you want your savings to grow ahead of retirement. Speak to a financial advisor and make sure that you can trust them properly before you commit to anything, though.

Forgetting About Future Healthcare Costs

You have to think about your future needs and how they might be different to how they are right now. For example, most people have more care costs when they get older. Even if it just means making some smalls changes to your house to help improve mobility, these things cost money. You don’t know what your specific needs will be in 10, 20 or 30 years time, so it makes sense to save more to cover these basic extra costs. Don’t assume that you will be able to live on less money on when you enter retirement because the opposite might actually be the case. You should be looking to make retirement as comfortable as possible, and that demands cash.

Failing to Update Your Personal Information

This is one of those small things that can actually have a pretty big impact on your financial situation when you’re in retirement. If you don’t keep your personal information up to date and in good shape, you could face big problems later on. It doesn’t take much to keep your information up to date. So, when you m
ove house, inform any companies that you use to organise your pension. You don’t want to be penalised and have your finances threatened by something as basic and as simple as this. It’s easy to forget, so set yourself a reminder whenever your circumstances change in some way.