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Author: Will Chatham

Will Chatham is the Security Assessment Engineer for Arbor Networks. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. He started as a web developer, moved into Linux system administration, and ultimately found his place as a security professional. Having most recently conquered the OSCP certification, Will continues to hack his way into various things in an effort to make them more secure.

What To Know Before Buying A VR Headset

A VR headset is the latest must have gadget for any self-respecting techie, whether you want it to play the best VR games for Android, or for taking virtual tours of the world’s best museums. While the VR technology is becoming more affordable, a headset is still not a cheap piece of kit. If you’re considering buying one, it’s important to go into the purchase well-informed, so you can make the best choice and get the best product for your money.

Do You Want Tethered Or Mobile?

A tethered headset, like the Oculus Rift or the Playstation VR, connects to your PC or gaming console. These headsets are not cheap, usually running into hundreds of dollars, as they come with all kinds of extra kit like custom display screens, motion sensors and lenses. The high cost can be worth it if you’re a very serious gamer who plays a lot of high-end games, making the extra cost and kit worth it.

Mobile headsets, like the Google Cardboard, are cases that you put onto a smartphone. As the lens is the only really important part, these headsets are usually much cheaper than the tethered version. They tend to be more lightweight too, as they’re designed to be portable. Instead of being connected to your console, you’ll be able to take your games on the road. As they’re cheaper, the quality is sometimes lower, and you won’t always be able to play the latest VR games.

If you have a higher budget, play a lot of newer games and love to be an early adopter of new tech, then the tethered option might be the best option for you. For more casual gaming, use on the go and lower budgets, stick with the mobile version. The price difference can be pretty big, but the technology is improving all the time even on cheap options, so don’t discount them. 

Does Your Phone Or PC Meet The Hardware Requirements?

As a general rule, a newer or more expensive PC or phone, the better the chance is that it’s already capable of handling VR. You can get an idea of whether yours is ready with this guide from Oculus. The requirements for most VR devices are pretty similar, but as a basic guide, you’ll need to check your graphics card, processor and memory are up to the task. Some devices will also require a certain connection type or number of USB ports, so double check before you buy.

For phones, the demands are similar, but the screen size is a key feature. One of the most flexible is the Google Cardboard, so start here if you’re not sure. Your phone will need a built-in motion sensor, but most newer phones will have this.

Can You Afford It?

VR technology is generally still quite expensive. As well as the cost of the device itself, you might have to factor the cost of a new console or phone, or upgrades to your PC. Mobile VR headsets are cheaper than tethered options, using coming in at under $100. Low-end Cardboard options can be snapped up for under $10.

If you heart is set on a higher end device, but you don’t have the budget, look out sales or deals. Most headsets can be bought on Amazon, which often runs deals on electronics. Put a watch on you dream headset and wait.

How Much Does It Weigh?

As a rule of thumb, you want a headset that is reasonably light. As it’s going to be attached to your face, lighter is better so it’s comfortable to wear and play with for longer periods. You don’t want to have to stop playing before you’re ready because the headset is too heavy and uncomfortable.

Look for a headset that has its weight well distributed across the shape and the straps that attach it to you. This can make even a heavier headset feel much lighter, whereas poor weight distribution will make the set feel like it;s all resting on the bridge of your nose. Try a few one; what’s comfortable for you may be different than what works for other people.

Too light can be a problem too. Viewers made of card are very light, but are too flimsy to attach any straps to, so you have to hold them up the whole time you’re using them.

How Do You Control The Headset?

The controls can differ enormously between different headsets, so try a few to see which you prefer. The best options have external sensors that you can put up around the room, with motion sensitive controllers, allowing you to walk around inside a virtual environment. Different headsets have slightly less range of motion or less spatial awareness.

Others come with simple buttons on the headset itself, or with remotes. Some are touch screen. Some Cardboard-compatible apps don’t need any controls at all. Many of them are passive experiences, like video or roller coaster VR experiences. 

Before deciding on buying a VR headset, try out as many as you can. VR headsets are often shown at technology conferences, or may be able to try them in store. If you friends own one, ask to test theirs out and see if you like it. Before investing, try a few different brands and options to see what suits you. Try tethered and mobile, with different kinds of controls and test out a few kinds of games to be certain you’ll get plenty of use out of your new toy.

To save some money, look out for deals and shop around for the best price for the headset you eventually settle on. If you can, buy from somewhere with a good returns policy, in case you don’t get on with the device you first choose. Once you’ve found the right device for you, take out a warranty policy to protect your new prize possession, and remember to add it to your insurance if you’ve opted for one of the higher end headsets.

Four Experts That Your Business Needs

When you work for yourself, you often find that you have to wear many hats. You can be the maintenance officer one minute, then the receptionist manning the phones and five minutes later, a product designer. It can be enriching taking on so many different facets of the business and it is often part and parcel of running a small business. However, there are some elements of your business that might be a little beyond your area of expertise. There are occasions when you are going to benefit from getting some professional support, and we share these in today’s post, 4 experts that your business needs.

IT consultants

You are going to need to use technology effectively for your business.

Whether you are searching for the best vpn or you are looking to create some bespoke software, IT consultants can be invaluable to your business.

Businesses normally require a website as a minimum, and it can be beneficial to use IT experts to help you with this. They can do anything from designing an internet presence for you to updating it to helping you to improve your SEO to monitoring its security and more. You can work with them to support you with whatever you are not comfortable doing yourself.

Graphic designers

Your business will benefit from strong branding and eye catching visuals. Unless this is a field that you have some experience in, you are going to need to hire a graphic designer to work closely with you to get this right.

Graphic designers can turn your ideas and visions into designs, however abstract your suggestions are. Talk to them about your business, your products and services and what you want to convey through your branding. They will then come up with several suggestions for you to look over before developing one of them further.

Graphic designers will be instrumental in working with you on your signage, logos, packaging, website and social media icons, and potentially any merchandise that you wish to sell or gift.

Accountants

It is essential that your bookkeeping is kept up to date and accurate. You need to meet your tax obligations and there is no room for error. As such, accountants are a necessary expense.

You can work with your accountant to varying degrees. You might use your own software and keep your own books and then have your accountant review and audit them for you. Alternatively you might choose to hand over all accounts to them, which will be a greater expense but less work for you if numbers are not your thing.

Human Resources

Human resources experts can be invaluable if you have a team.

If you have a growing business, you might choose to keep an officer on staff. Or you can consult with them on any matters around human resources, the legalities and looking after your team properly.

You might choose to consult experts when you are recruiting, perhaps using them to help you to interview and assess. They can lend you their experience as well as ensuring you are conducting your recruitment within current policies and laws. You can then enlist their support when managing staff to help you to get the best out of everyone and adhere to employment law.

“Smart” Door Lock Drilled Open in 4 Seconds

The most striking (you locksmiths will get that joke) thing about this is that an expensive “smart” lock was made with little to no physical security features in mind. I like how the article points out the difficulty of physically compromising a good-ole-fashioned steel, “dumb” mortise lock.

Is it true that “smart” lock manufacturers are forgetting about physical security when designing locks? Isn’t that the point of a lock?

What You Need To Know About Installing Solar Street Lights

Solar energy has been harnessed over the years due to its renewability, cheap price tag, and durability. Since its clean energy, many people have started using it for an opportunity to save the dying planet and reduce pollution. Previously, it was only used as a lighting and heating alternative in homes and industries whose power consumption bills would skyrocket, but that has since changed. It is now a viable and dependable power source on its own. This has seen people use solar and stay off the grid for years. It has also brought with it solar street lights that solely depend on it to function. If you are looking to harness this power for your street lighting project, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Location

For your streetlights to work optimally, you need to install them in an ideal spot. Avoid spaces with shades or shadows for long hours as they reduce the light and heat uptake. Consider solar street lights by Solar Lighting International as they engage experts before installation. They help you calculate the maximum insolation and irradiance. However, when there are no open spaces, consider using longer poles or placing adaptive solar lights in high spots. Since the lights require spacing, check the space available for your project as this might hinder your plans.

Cost

To start with, you need to have an estimated cost of installation. This figure can be sourced from several companies that handle installations or from different packages within one company. Compare these prices to ensure you get value for money at affordable rates. You should also consider maintenance and servicing fees as these costs could ruin your budget. In areas where there are known calamities and robbery, consider increasing the maintenance funds kit amount to cater for any eventuality.

Power Output

When installing streetlights, start by having a feasibility study on your power needs. Each space requires different illumination, and you need to have yours figured out. For large spaces, get potent lights and vice versa. The study also helps you determine power output, battery wattage and capacities, lighting options, and fixtures. It also helps you determine the expected light hours each day for correct street light installation. This helps you get customized street lights for your space.

Safety

Despite the power source being the sun, the streetlights can be a threat and risk to those around. For streetlights in public spaces, ensure you do not interfere with the layout and hinder movement or transportation. Consult local authorities first to avoid breaking the law or losing your investment if forcefully brought down. Use quality material to avoid breakages and accidents that can be costly to replace and to compensate victims. Additionally, consider the material that does not put those around it at risk through electrocution.

Return on Investment

Before installing the lights, you must have a motive behind it. Most people install them to enhance security while others do it to increase the work hours within premises. Ensure the cost does not outdo the expected returns as this makes it a non-viable option. Consider cost-effective street lighting options to ensure you recoup your investment and even make more out of it.

Four Tips to Help You Retain Your Employees When Your Business Works Across Time Zones

One of the biggest logistical challenges companies face when expanding across time zones is retaining a team that works in different locations.

One of the top reasons that employees cite as a reason for moving on from a company is that they feel overlooked by management. Not surprisingly, losing your employees is a big risk when you expand your business across more than one location, as your team may start to feel that they are not receiving the oversight, support and attention that they deserve.

If your organization is stretched across several time zones, these strategies offer solutions to help you keep your talent happy.

Embrace Technology Freedom

When your team works from multiple locations, it doesn’t make sense to have your talent tied to a desktop. Your employees may need to travel between offices or work from home or even a hotel room when meetings draw them to far-flung cities.

A useful strategy for managing this mobile workforce is giving your team choice over the devices they use. Thanks to advancements in mobile device management, allowing your team their choice of technology needn’t be cause for worry in terms of security. In fact, MDM is one of the ways that technology can improve security in business. Not only does MDM give you content visibility across your company’s devices, but Electric MDM can reduce business risks and support costs. Allowing your team to use a device of their choice is also a great way to boost retention. Bonus!

Focus on Employee Wellness

Investing heavily in employee wellness is vital, as it signals to your team that you value their contribution. Providing great office facilities with comfortable break-out areas is a great way to demonstrate that you are concerned about the quality of your team’s work environment, wherever they are located.

Prioritize Transparency

When the time comes to expand across time zones, it helps to be as transparent as possible about the future of your business, highlighting what the geographic expansion means for your team. Underlining that expanding your business will open doors for your team in their own careers is a great way to assure them that the transition period and challenges of expansion will pay off for them as well.

Accept Unusual Work Hours

When your various teams span multiple time zones, it won’t be unusual for your team to work odd working hours to cater to the requirements of your business. Some employees may struggle at first, and it’s important to support them if they can’t adjust, ideally offering transfers to other cities as an option. But now and then, one of your staff might embrace the unusual business hours and wish to work all their hours on the 24hr clock. And why not? A nine-to-five does not suit everybody, as research has shown that circadian rhythms vary, so different workers will be naturally more productive at different times. As far as possible, it makes sense to allow your team to work the hours that suit them best. Not only will they be more productive, but they are more likely to want to stay in their jobs, as they will feel supported and valued.

Whether you employ a staff of three or thirty, managing your team across time zones can be tricky. These tips will help you ensure that none of your work (or team members) slips through the cracks, and your business continues to thrive.

Thoughts on OSCP being ‘outdated’

In recent weeks I have been reading comments online about the Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PWK) course and OSCP exam taking a lot of flak for being “tool old” and using “outdated exploits that don’t even work anymore.”

I believe most of these comments are directed at the lab environment and course materials. It is true that you won’t find many systems in modern pentesting engagements that are exploitable with older things such as EternalBlue (MS17-010).

But that is beside the point.

The PWK and OSCP exam are all about teaching you how to think, solve problems, persevere, and develop a pentesting methodology that works for you.

It is true that Hack The Box (HTB) and other modern online capture-the-flag frameworks are more leading-edge in that regard, which is great, and they can certainly be an excellent way to augment and prepare for the PWK/OSCP journey.

But the point is that it really doesn’t matter if you drive a 2019 Ferrari 488 Spider or a 1996 Honda Accord, it is whether or not you figure out how to get to the destination.