How to Check Websites are Safe

How to Check Websites are Safe
The technology behind the internet is changing so fast and what we know today could be totally obsolete next year. It is impossible to be completely up to date with everything that is evolving but there are some things that you should always be on top of and that is online security.

You want to know that the website you are visiting and uploading your personal and financial information is safe and secure. There should be no compromising of security. Here are a few things you need to check:

1. Ensure that the URL starts with HTTPS (when entering personal data)

When you are just browsing around an online shopping site, the regular HTTP start to the URL will most likely be in place. For general browsing you don’t need to worry about the S. It’s only when you begin to proceed to the checkout and you have to start leaving personal data and payment data that you need to make sure that the https security layer is in place. Amazon, for example, will always have this security layer at places that you leave your personal data. Your bank, like HSBC for example, will have this security layer in place always.

2. Check what the website can do with your information

Before you start entering all your personal information, your address, your pet’s name and your favourite food, you might want to check what the website plans to use your information for. Make sure that there is a strict privacy and security policy in place. If you don’t want the website owners to pass your information onto a third party (think: Spam!!) then make sure this is clearly stated in their policy agreement. You might want to agree to get promotional emails from the website for example, but not that they pass your email on to another party. Quality gaming sites like Jackpotland.com have a strict security policy and very safe website where your personal data is kept secure and will not be passed on to others.

3. Update your Anti-Virus program

Make sure your anti-virus protection is up to date. There is nothing more comforting than that pop up window showing that some potential nasty Trojan horse scum has been quarantined and destroyed.

How To Post An Animated Image To Facebook

Did you know that it is now possible to post an animated image on Facebook? This facility has just been introduced properly (previously Facebook only supported 'gif' images hosted on the Giphy website) and will make sharing a point of view or expression so much more fun and so annoying in equal measures. 

How To  Post An Animated Image To Facebook


The .gif needs to be hosted somewhere on the internet. You can have a practice with the one that I have included below of "A Woman's Brain". 

Right click on the image and choose "Copy Image URL"

How To  Post An Animated Image To Facebook


In your Facebook status box, right click and choose the "Paste" option (or use CTRL V).

How To  Post An Animated Image To Facebook


Let the image upload.

How To  Post An Animated Image To Facebook

Delete the link.

How To  Post An Animated Image To Facebook

Post the image

How To  Post An Animated Image To Facebook


Try it out now using this image


a woman's brain, animated image, gif, How To  Post An Animated Image To Facebook


Hints And Tips 


  • Animated images can only be used on personal profiles and not pages (I'll update this tutorial if this changes)
  • Tumblr is a great source for animated images using their embedded search engine.
  • To find animated images using Google Image Search then select "Search Tools" > "Type" > "Animated" 


[Infographic] You Are What You Tweet

I found this fabulous little tool on the Visually website which generates an infographic image of you based on your Twitter activity.  

Now, I created this on a Sunday morning hence the mentions of 'FridayTwiz' and 'Britain's Got Talent' so I suspect that the related topics may change if I generated another mid-week.  Also, the statistics towards the bottom of the infographic don't seem overly-accurate (0% for chattiness, enthusiasm and interestingness? Excuse me!!) But it's otherwise fairly accurate and a bit of fun. 

Go and create one for yourself (you have to be logged in to Visually and allow the app access to your Twitter account - you can always unsubscribe and remove permissions afterwards) and show me the results. You can leave your link in the comments here or tweet me @nickieohara.


Openoox : Your New Homepage

I was recently invited to try out Openoox which is a brand new concept that creates a homepage which collates your bookmarks, social media and files



It relies on a cloud-style security system so that in the event of a hard drive crash or just the fact that you're accessing a different computer (or on your tablet or smartphone), all your favourite links are safe. 




Openoox is free and takes literally a few minutes to set up as a basic homepage however, the more you use it, the more find you can do with it.

Registration is completed using your email address, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and requests basic information such as personal details, your preferred search engine and your favourite websites to help you create your homepage in five easy steps.  New items can be added to the homepage easily by adding more bookmarks (you can import your existing browser bookmarks if you wish), personal files and links.

Openoox

OpenooxOpenoox


Openoox is a French company and I was the 5424th person to join.  You can "follow" other Openoox users (Ooxers - here's my profile) and share your links or create public files.  At the time of review, my social sharing announcements were in French (or didn't translate properly) and the homepage examples linked direct to the French version of the nominated website (e.g. Amazon France) but this is easily changed. Updating my public profile was very easy and self-explanatory.

I'm currenly using Openoox as my own homepage and moving things around to find a layout and set up that works for me. Give it a try and let me know how you get on with it.





[REVIEW] Portable Chargers From Omaker

The more we rely on our mobile devices, the more we use the battery power. I have yet to find a phone that will last a full day whilst being used to call, text and browse the internet.  Sometimes it's not always possible to plug your phone or mobile device into a wall or computer to give it a bit of a boost charge which is why I am such a fan of portable chargers.

Omaker Power Bank

Omaker Power Bank
The Omaker portable power bank has three ports, one on/off button and four lights to show you how much charge is left in the power bank.  There are two USB ports so you can charge two items of tech at one time and there is a micro-USB port so that you can recharge the power bank.

The power bank has a weighty feel to it but it's not too heavy to carry around. It also comes with a drawstring carry case which houses the powerbank and the necessary leads.

To charge an item of tech (phone, tablet, etc) you simply plug in your device, press the power button and you're away. When fully charged, the power bank has enough charge to give a phone about five or six boost charges and it took about 45 minutes to give my phone a full boost.

This power bank is a great addition to your work bag or to take with you on a short trip away (camping, a festival, overnight trip).  Find out more on Amazon*

Omaker Car Charger 

Omaker Car Charger
This is the first car charger I have reviewed and considering the cigarette lighter in my car is now redundant, this is a fantastic replacement idea. When plugged in, the car charger can recharge up to three mobile devices (phone, tablet, etc) at normal recharging speed.

The charger has an 'intelligent internal circuit' which prevents over-heating and over-charging plus charging will auto-stop when the device battery is full. I would recommend using this recharging device when the car engine is running although I shouldn't drain your car battery too much if used when the car is not running.  

This charger is great if you are travelling long distance or if you are on a family outing and multiple devices need charging up for additional use.  Find out more on Amazon


Links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. 

4 ways high speed internet can transform your business

4 ways high speed internet can transform your business
With the advent of broadband some years ago, many of us believe that the problem of internet speed had been solved once and for all. It's since become clear that this is not the case. As internet speeds across the world increased, the internet itself started to develop and head in new directions. Soon enough, web pages had transformed from basic, text based pages to multimedia sites which maximised users' bandwidths.

Internet speeds and the mass of data online have continued to develop with one another. Today, though, there is a service which allows users a peek into the future – gigabit internet connections. Here, we take a look at how this colossal service can benefit businesses up and down the country.

1. Uninterrupted conferences

The benefits of conducting business conversations online where possible are well understood, but many companies are equally aware of its pitfalls. To have an important conference call ruined by a poor connection is more than an embarrassment – it can sometimes develop into a very costly loss. Gigabit internet provides ample bandwidth for such conference calls to take place smoothly, regardless of what else the connection is being used for at that time.

2. Using the highest possible quality

Whether you're creating a promotional video or passing other media around the office, it's nice to have no limits. Those with slower internet connections can often be forced into compromising on the size of the files they share, which has a knock on effect on the overall quality. Gigabit services allow you to move huge files at great speed with no limitations.

3. Keeping up with competitors

A large part of succeeding as a business is about keeping up with competitors and your marketplace. Not only does this truth extend to marketing and sales, but to a company's infrastructure and internet speeds also. This piece in the FT highlights the importance of a strong connection to cutting edge businesses.

4. Dealing with multimedia

As marketing becomes increasingly reliant upon the digital sector, as per this Guardian piece, businesses of all kinds need to be able to handle large amounts of media. Handling this media – all of which should be of the highest quality – can bring serious demands on the bandwidth of an office. In order for smaller firms to punch above their weight, they need a connection which won't limit them in this respect.

With these four ways in which high speed internet can really transform our businesses, it’s no wonder why so many of us have opted for the speedier approach.

This is a featured post. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

[REVIEW] Canon LEGRIA Mini (Camcorder/Vlogging Camera)

For two months I have been testing the Canon LEGRIA mini camcorder. With the recent boom of 'vlogging' (short video diaries) this hand-held camera is very much geared towards the 'selfie' shot and is very user-friendly when you want to simply record-and-go.

[REVIEW] Canon LEGRIA Mini  - Geekalicious

First Impressions


Positive
Easy to use out of the box
High resolution 
Wi_Fi features
Wide angle (fish eye)

Negative
Requires a micro SD card before you can record any footage
No microphone input 
No zoom
Slightly temperamental 

The Important Bits

The Canon LEGRIA mini fits comfortably into one hand. When you turn the unit on, the lens cover automatically slides open (and vice versa). During first use, you are prompted to configure the settings but on subsequent uses, the camera really is point-and-shoot with touch screen controls.

The LEGRIA mini has a 2.7 inch LCD screen and can be used with the screen flat or at any angle on the hinge, including with a complete flip-over for that pre-mentioned selfie shot. Underneath, there is a built-in stand and a screw mount for a tripod stand. The camera shoots in full HD 9MP in movie mode and still images are shot in 12MP which is excellent quality for your YouTube videos and thumbnail shots. 

The lens on the LEGRIA mini houses the equivalent of a 16.8 wide angle lens but switches to a straight-on view using a single touch-screen feature.  To take the tech-speak out of the equation for a moment, the wide-angle view is representative of the 'fish eye' effect/trend that is seen in many YouTube vlogs. There is a built-in stereo microphone situated next to the lens

Special shooting features (sports, night, beach, snow, and more) are included and manually switching these settings will ensure that your videos are shot in the best quality in different settings. Other noted features are slow/fast motion, time-delay and video snapshots (similar to Instagram or Vine capture). There is also an option to "draw" on the screen or add cartoon-style embellishments, however, this feature remains unused during my review. 

An interesting feature is the inclusion of Wi-Fi connectivity. This means that you can connect the LEGRIA mini to an free app on your iPhone/Android and remotely control the camera during recording and/or stream videos straight onto your phone, giving you more creative freedom. At the moment, you cannot stream live onto the internet using this facility (think: Google Hangouts) so I would like to see this included in the next upgrade model.

Right at the beginning of the review, I mentioned that the LEGRIA had been temperamental.  On occasion I found that the video files hadn't saved properly (corrupted) or hadn't saved at all. Originally I thought this may have been an issue with the unit so Canon sent a replacement model. Since then, there have been four more corrupted files. Files are saved to the SD Card (not included) automatically when you stop recording but don't seem to completely save until you switch the unit off.  My advice here would be to ensure that you wait a few extra seconds after shut-off before removing the SD card if needed. 

If you would like to see how the Canon LEGRIA mini performs then head on over to my YouTube channel and check out the #TI1M playlist. 

Should I buy one?

At the time of reviewing, the cheapest unit price was £175 and the average price was £220 and I'm not sure the price will drop any time soon.  This is currently out of my price bracket, however if the cash was available I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this camcorder simply because of the size and ease of use. 

[REVIEW] Canon LEGRIA Mini  - Geekalicious


This review was conducted on a unit that has now been returned to Canon. 
Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

Bring your own device to work has just got a whole lot better

It is fair to say that the world of business has probably not been as quick as consumers to embrace new technology. Where individuals have invested in tablets, smartphones and the latest laptops, desktop computers have remained the staple of many offices up and down the country.

This is not of course true of all industries and increasingly many companies are encouraging the Bring Your Own Device policy, as mentioned in a previous post on Geekalicious. Whilst not a new concept, (the term was first coined around four years ago) its effectiveness has increased in recent times due to advances in technology.

Initially Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was fraught with problems. Many of the lower grade devices were unable to stand up to the rigours of business and proved to be unreliable. They were also a risk from a security point of view and as a result BYOD often caused more problems than they solved.

As time has gone on and employers have realised the benefits that the Bring Y

our Own Device scheme can bring to the company; tech firms have been working hard to deliver the very best applications to help eradicate those problems.

Dell for example, have devised a number of products aimed at the home and work market. They range from tablets to laptops to cloud connectivity devices; all aimed at ensuring employees can use the devices they love without compromising security.

The benefits of using technology at home as well as in the office are great. It allows employees to work remotely when they are needed to. This can have a positive effect on productivity for the organisation as it allows employees to use the device for both personal and business use.

From the point of view of the business it saves costs on investing in new IT equipment every year as well as potentially saving money on maintenance. Bring Your Own Device can also help employers attract new and retain current staff by letting them use the devices they want for work.

As individuals continue their love affair with technology and have a desire to have the very latest devices; BYOD makes good sense. It benefits the company, it benefits the individual and it allows greater flexibility for everyone involved.

This is a featured post. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

What Is StumbleUpon?

What Is StumbleUpon? (a tutorial)
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that collates web addresses. Content needs to be manually submitted to the StumbleUpon directory or database for it to appear in their Stumbles (recommendations)

In the main, members use the StumbleUpon facilities to discover new online content according to pre-set personal preferences.  

For bloggers, using the StumbleUpon facilities to add your posts/articles to the StumbleUpon directory and drive traffic to your blog/website.


Sign up to StumbleUpon

The StumbleUpon registration process is very simple.  You will need a valid email address, a unique username, a password and you will also be asked for your gender and your date of birth.  This is so that content can be streamlined to your preferences.  You can also opt to log in using your Facebook account.

After you have entered this information you will be directed to a list of interests, or categories.  Pick as many or as few as you like but the more you select, the more varied the content you will be shown.



(check which toolbar/add-on/extension you need for your browser)




Select the toolbar for the browser that you use – there are toolbars available for all the main browsers; Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.  They may differ slightly in appearance but their functionalities are the same.



Hitting the red "Stumble" button will find you random new content.

Click the "thumbs up" if you like the content displayed and want to publicly recommend it on your profile.  Also hit this to recommend your own content. This is counted as one Stumble.  If it is the first time a web page has been Stumbled then you will need to complete a short form detailing whether the content is “safe for work”, the topics it should be filed under and there is space for an optional review.

Click the "thumbs down" if you dislike the content displayed so that your StumbleUpon preferences update to show less of this type of content although it won’t completely remove the category from your preferences.



Share the displayed content with your social network and your online community.  Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email and more.

The speech bubble shows reviews and recommendations of the displayed page, Stumblers who like it and more.  This is a great way to “meet” other Stumblers.

“All Interests” will provide you with web content from all of your category selections or you can filter down to a single category to get more precise recommendations.




This section provides quick navigation to the SU home page, your own StumbleUpon account
 and any notification you may have within your SU account.  The "X" removes the toolbar from your webpage. 


HINTS AND TIPS

  • Use the StumbleUpon toolbar to share your own content
REMEMBER:  When sharing your own content on your social media platforms, use the StumbleUpon toolbar.  Each time your StumbleUpon shortlink is clicked on, it is another "stumble" or recommendation.  The more times a web page is Stumbled (recommended or give a “thumbs up”) the greater the chance that it will be recommended to other Stumblers, therefore widening your audience.

  • Stumble other pages (give them the “thumbs up”), not just your own content
REMEMBER:  You can “stumble” any webpage – not just one that has been thrown up from the StumbleUpon directory.  This can be a link you have seen on Twitter, a picture you have seen on Facebook or your own content.  Ensure that you don't just Stumble your own content as this is considered spamming and poor etiquette.

  • Set the StumbleUpon toolbar to open each time you are browsing the internet OR have a shortcut in your browser toolbar OR use a browser extension.
REMEMBER:  By nature, internet readers are followers rather than leaders.  If they see content recommended by others, it is more likely that they will recommend it themselves to their own network or hit the “thumbs up” button so that it appears on their profile as an official Stumble.

  • Have a StumbleUpon button or share option on your blog
REMEMBER:  Now you've signed up, give it a try by Stumbling this post by using the button at the top or bottom of this post. And here is my StumbleUpon profile too.  You can follow other Stumblers and see the content they are sharing on the SU website in a visual context similar to Pinterest.


[Updated 06.01.15]

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