Microsoft Windows has Free Virtual Machines

Wish I had know about these earlier. Microsoft offers free Windows virtual machines for VirtualBox, VMWare, and others. You can choose from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (a few different flavors of each). They last 90 days before expiring, but you can snapshot them right after you install them to make it easy to reset that 90 days by rolling back to the snapshot.

Officially, these are for testing out the Edge browser, but you can also use them for whatever else 😉

Check them out here:

https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/

 

 

Just In Time, the Brave Browser Becomes My Default

Last night I saw a respected security professional I follow on Twitter mention the Brave web browser, and how good he thought the mobile version is. Brave was started by the Mozilla Project co-founder Brandon Eich, and is based on Chromium, the open-source base that Google Chrome is constructed upon.

Today, I caught wind that Chrome is soon going to prevent you from doing things such as disabling its DRM management feature called Widevine. The problem with this is summarized here:

…a single browser may now require two different DRM plugins to play all DRM content. These plugins have their own security issues, but unlike with the Flash vulnerabilities, security researchers are banned from looking for them, due to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). That means malicious hackers, who already engage in other criminal activities, may freely take advantage of all the vulnerabilities they find in these DRM plugins before companies discover them on their own.

In short, because of the closed nature of the DMCA, we end users are at risk unnecessarily, and we will soon have no ability to disable this plugin should we wish to do so.

Enter The Brave

Brave offers a browser that works on all platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) and on mobile. It blocks ads by default, blocks malware, and is lean and fast. Putting user privacy and security at the forefront, along with speed, this thing is a powerhouse as it forces https on websites and prevents malware-serving advertisement networks from invading your workspace.

But the difference is the paradigm shift in supporting advertisers, as opposed to simply blocking them out completely:

Brave intends to keep 15% of ad revenue for itself, pay content publishers 55%, ad partners 15% and also give 15% to the browser users, who can in turn donate to bloggers and other providers of web content through micropayments.

I have yet to figure out how or if that will work, exactly, and it doesn’t seem to be fully impemented in the browser yet, but it seems like a great way to solve the elephant-in-the-room problem the Internet faces today: how to earn money and keep users safe at the same time, so that they don’t need to run ad blockers and anti-tracking plugins?

Stay tuned for more info as I learn it, and as I figure out Brave.

Let’s Revisit: Sending Mass Emails The Right Way

envelopes photoThe concept of sending an email to multiple people the right way seems to have eluded the populace as a whole lately. I’m looking at you, schoolteachers, soccer coaches, and party invitation senders. I write to you today because, in recent months, it seems I’ve been included on more and more emails where I’m one of 50 people whose email address is awkwardly stuffed into the CC: field of the email you sent, right there with all the others for everyone in the list to see. I even got an email from the manager of the local Sears store I had recently purchased an appliance from, that got sent to all the people who had bought something there recently, and everyone’s name and address were easily viewable in the CC field.

The problem here is that you are being inconsiderate towards peoples’ privacy, and you are sending around a large list of real email addresses to possibly be harvested by spammers.

There is a way to do this that protects peoples’ privacy, doesn’t annoy the nerds and geeks in your email list, and makes you look like you know what you are doing. What trifecta could be better than that?

The easiest way to do this is by using the BCC: field instead of the CC: field. BCC stands for “Blind carbon copy,” which means that any email address entered in it will not show up to the recipients of the email. The CC: field does show them, so don’t use it.

The trick is that you should enter your own email address in the To: field of the email, then enter the long list of room parents or party invitees in the BCC field. That’s it! Now you too can look cool.

There are some detailed instructions, with pictures, available here, in case you need more info.

The Best Ways to Boost Your Blog Revenue

Blogging really has become huge in the past few years, with thousands of new ones being set up every single day. People blog to share their knowledge on a topic, to keep as an online journal, to connect with others, even businesses have got on board with the benefits blogging can bring. If you own a blog, chances are you started it as a hobby. But these days there’s the chance to earn excellent money from blogging, and why wouldn’t you? Making money doing something you love is pretty much the dream. Here are some simple ways you can start earning money (or boost the revenue) of your blog.

Make Yourself More Attractive To Sponsors

The web is saturated with blogs, when it comes to advertising sponsors are spoiled for choice. So your best bet to encourage them to work with you instead of the next blogger is make your site as attractive as possible. You can do this by publishing regular, high-quality content with beautiful image. Have a clean, professional blog template installed with an eye-catching header to make it personal and unique. Drop the ‘.wordpress.com.’ or ‘.blogger.com.’ at the end of your domain by purchasing your own custom domain. Use a domain registration tool to find out what’s available and then go ahead and purchase. Setting it up to work with your blog is relatively straightforward, and you then have a far more professional looking blog. Some sponsors will only work with bloggers with their own domain, so this is something you can’t afford to miss out on. Another major thing sponsors will be looking at is domain authority. This is influenced by how long you have had your domain, and how many backlinks you have to your site. You can improve your number of backlinks by collaborating with bloggers, asking them to publish a guest post from you. Simply include a link back to your blog at the end as an author bio, and it’s win- win. They get good quality content, and you get a backlink. Use social media to connect with other bloggers, join in with Twitter chats and make friends. Not only can you support each other with links and comments but you might make some genuine friends too.

Sign Up To Sponsored Post Websites

The thing about sponsored posts is you often have to wait for advertisers to contact you. This can be frustrating as a blogger as you can go weeks without hearing anything and there’s not much you can do to be proactive. However many advertisers work with sponsored post companies, so it’s worth finding some of these and signing up. Usually, you can ‘bid’ on jobs, and the client will accept or reject you if you’re a good fit with relevance and have the number of social followers they’re looking for. It’s a good way to actively seek out work, even if you’re not getting accepted for everything it can help you to land jobs you may have otherwise not got.

Explore Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and while as a blogger this is unlikely to be your main source of income it can be a good backup. Google Adsense is always worth signing up for, every time someone clicks on your ad or even if you get an impression on the page you earn a small amount of money. Over time this can definitely add up. There are tonnes of other affiliate marketing companies out there so find one you like that pays well. You usually just insert an ad, link or piece of code onto your site (or in a blog post) and the clicks and purchases from it are tracked. If you link to something that your followers love and they actually buy the product you can get a decent percentage from it.

The Internet Is Full of Money: Are You Getting Your Share

Anywhere there are large quantities of people; there is money. And on the internet, there are a lot of people; some 2.8 billion people, approximately. With so many people accessing the same service, it’s no surprise that internet businesses have skyrocketed their way to massive financial reward. However, you don’t have to be Amazon or eBay of Facebook to rake in the digital cash. Anyone with a pinch of talent and a strong work ethic can make money online. They just need to find out exactly how they can do it. Here are a few tips to get you on your way.

What’s Your Talent?

There are a million and one ways to make money online, but you don’t have the skillset to do all of them. You can do one (or several) of them. As such, think about what you’re good at and then research the online demand for that skill. If you’re a good writer, then there will be opportunities for you to write online. If you’re a guitar player, then there will be a demand for online webcam lessons. These are just two examples; it can be anything. Think of how you make money in “the real world” and see if it’ll transfer to the digital world.

Putting it out There

The idea is one thing, putting it into practice is another thing. You need to understand how the internet works and build your new venture around it; it is your gateway to success. This means understanding the internet trends (such as how people find businesses/establish their trustworthiness, etc.). You’ll also need the tools to get ahead in a busy marketplace. If you’re selling your products, then recruiting the services of an ecommerce agency will give you access to the areas of expertise you need to be successful. If you’re planning on writing, then having a website that showcases your talent and provides testimonials from past clients is the way to go.

Part-Time, Full-Time

Some people think of the internet as a way to get easy, fast cash. That’s not the case. Just as you can’t expect to be profitable offline if you don’t work hard; if you don’t put the necessary effort into your online venture, then it is doomed to failure. You may want to start as a side-project, but you’ll quickly need to put in full-time hours (even if you have another job). There’s no way to just fall into success online (at least anymore), so treat it as a serious business from day one.

Being Patient

The road to success on the internet, like in most other things, is never as quick as we would like. You’ll need to be patient, and be willing to roll with the punches as you work toward building a successful business. If you have a skill that at least one other person will pay for you, and understand how the internet works (or are at least willing to get help), then there’s no reason you can’t get your slice of the internet pie!