Facebook jail

Facebook JailFacebook Jail: how does a small business owner get blocked from Facebook for 6 weeks?

Missing In Action

I’d missing a Facebook friend for some weeks. I like his snarky humour. But I hadn’t seen any posts from him in weeks. Was he blocked on Facebook again I wondered.

How does a small business owner get blocked on Facebook because of his business pictures?

Facebook Jail

Ryan landed in Facebook Jail for six weeks because of his business pictures posted on his personal Facebook account.

Ryan has a men’s underwear business. The pictures he posted of his products are not like Victoria’s Secret (would you call that Albert’s secret?). You can’t even see the face of his model, he doesn’t hire expensive photographers or use fancy backgrounds. It’s like pictures from a Sears catalogue. And not as racy as what you can see on some billboards around town. Check out his website here so you can see for yourself.

But Facebook has decided to censor Ryan and pictures of his business products.

I have to wonder if partly this is Facebook not so subtly folks to buy ads for their business Facebook pages. I’ve been annoyed how Facebook has tinkered with my feed so I don’t see frequent updates from the businesses I follow. A lot of them are clients and I like to know what they’re doing and what they’re writing about. And that tinkering with frequency of business posts in my feed happened just as Facebook was rolling out their ads for business.

Google Goliath

Another tech giant strikes against small business story.

Recently Google announced that it’s Chrome browser would start marking sites that require logins as insecure if the site doesn’t use an SSL certificate starting in January 2017. Shortly after that Chrome will mark any website insecure (with a big red X) that doesn’t use SSL certificates.

What is SSL?

SSL certificates or Secure Sockets Layer certificate is the way a browser (like Chrome or Firefox) guarantee that the website you’re visiting is certified to be the correct site. How you see that in the your browser is that the address has a s in the address example https:/facebook.com and you can see a green lock.

More detailed technical explanation here.

You purchase this certificate for your website (prices range from $15 a year to $300 depending on how much ecommerce you’re doing).

How does this Google announcement affect your small business?

Even if you do not use ecommerce on your website, you will be forced to fork over dollars just to maintain your safety rating and your SEO ranking. You will have the annual cost of the certificate plus the cost of installing it.

Patch Tuesday September 2016

Patch Tuesday September 2016Patch Tuesday September 2016: most of your technology needs patching and updating today!

Patch Tuesday Harvest

Adobe, Android, Apple and Microsoft all released critical patches and updates today. Hard to choose which is more critical. I recommend you update Windows, Android devices and then Adobe products based on the number of vulnerabilities patched.  But don’t forget your Apple harvest.

Microsoft Updates

Windows, everything from Windows Vista to the most recent Windows 10 and server products, requires 14 patches most of them critical. You will have to restart your computer after update.

Breakdown details here.

Android Agony

Google released 47 patches for 57 Android flaws. Most of the patches fix malware and privacy problems.

Complete technical breakdown on the Android patches here.

Hot Flash

Adobe released a security patch for our monthly favourite hot Flash.

Also there’s an update for Adobe Digital Editions (Adobe’s ebook reader).

As Flash is a favourite with hackers, you need to update it quickly.

Apple Harvest

Apple released a patch earlier this month for OS X and Safari that blocks the Pegasus spyware. This in addition to patches released last month for iOS products to block the same spyware. Details here.

September 13th Apple released iOS 10. Initially some iPhones were bricked by this update but the problem has been fixed.

Details on the iOS 10 features here.

Also, if you’re running an iPhone 5  or iPhone 5c and you’re worried about how iOS 10 will run on older hardware, it’s been tested. See this review here.

I know September is a busy month for most business owners but do make time to patch.

Avoid Website Woes

avoid website woesAvoid website woes: the worst call a small business owner can get is telling them their web site has been hacked and the host has shut it down.

And then the hosting company tries to sell you a really expensive and confusing solution.

This happened recently to a client of mine. Luckily they contacted me and I was able to get them a better website cleanup option (and cheaper).

Website Woes

Most small business owners I know did not go into business because they love managing their business web site. It’s even more foreign than the workings of computers and smartphones for the average business owner.

And there are a lot of shysters out there selling website design, website updates, website hosting and website cleanup. And folks who think they can learn all about website management from a three day course from some guru who took a week long course. Recently I had a client who was being charged $500 a year for website maintenance and when I logged into her WordPress dashboard it was clear the guy hadn’t done any maintenance in months.

And all too frequently I find business owners who do not know how to manage their website for security or even simple updates.

Your business website is at the minimum your online business brochure at best your online super charged sales funnel. You need to take care of it.

Avoid Website Woes

How do you avoid business website woes?

Here’s a list:

  • Know who your webhost is
  • know who your domain registrar is and when your domain gets renewed
  • record your login details with the webhost
  • record your control panel details (not necessarily the same as your webhost id)
  • Get your wordpress admin user name and password from your web designer
  • Update your website monthly (plugins, themes, WordPress core)
  • Backup your website monthly (VaultPress and BackupBuddy)
  • get a trusted technology advisor

Don’t be left staring at your website in despair.

website woes

 

How Tech Has Changed Tennis

How Tech has changed TennisHow Tech has changed tennis: recently I found a Wimbledon Classic Match from 1978 DVD at the library and within minutes of watching it I thought how much technology has changed tennis.

What a racket

Wooden tennis rackets, remember them? Not only has the tennis racket been upgraded from wood to carbon graphite but it’s smart now. In 2014, Babolat released the first smart rackets that record the player’s strokes, power of hits, level of spin and even the angle they hit the ball. So after a match, a player and their coach can get real information about what happened.

Game

Watching the chalk dust fly as a ball hit the line near the net judge monitoring the net cord, oh  how tech has changed tennis. In 1978, there was no net-cord sensor, no hawk-eye recording where the ball landed. Players could argue points with the umpire but there was no way to prove who was right. Computers and cameras generate all that information now to help the umpire and line judges (and replace the net judge).

Digital Set

Another thing I noticed while watching the Navratilova Evert final from 1978 was the audience. They were all watching the match. Not fiddling with phones and cameras, actually actively watching the action. I caught a bit of the French Open men’s final this year and I was appalled at all the people glued to their smartphones not just in between play but while there was action on the court.

I’m not the only one watching the audience. This year at Wimbledon, IBM”s Watson started monitoring the faces of the audience for reactions to the match. IBM has been tracking the match and player statistics at Wimbledon since 1990.

How Tech has changed Tennis

IBM Wimbledon Bunker

Match

It was restful watching the ’78 match because there were none of those computer generated statistics and tickers all over the screen all the time.

Recently I was helping a client with their web site and we had to access the back end via their web host. The web host put lobbed so much deuced digital sales crap it was impossible to find the technical information we needed on their web site. Every 30 seconds some  sales pop up was served on the screen.  Soon we discussed  moving their web site to another hosting company.

Besides the lack of technology in 1978 match, there were some other delightful anachronisms. The fridge full of Coca-Cola for the players was something to behold. During the U.S. Open coverage, Chris Evert commented how much knowledge about athlete nutrition has improved since the 70s and knowledge about athlete training. I believe the Internet and computers helped compile and spread that knowledge.

The BBC commentators were so heavily biased for Chris Evert to win the 1978 match it was unreal. They clearly didn’t like Martina Navratilova’s attitude (she’s still serving that up on Twitter @Martina).  And they were gobsmacked that she won (and went on to win eight more Wimbledon singles finals). Today that would cause a social media super storm.

The Wimbledon Video Collection Navratilova vs. Evert 1978 Final: such a classic match and one of the few women’s Wimbledon finals released on DVD. Nowadays you find those matches on YouTube.

 

Patch Tuesday August 2016

Patch Tuesday August 2016Patch Tuesday August 2016: it’s a summer harvest of security updates for everyone.

WordPress

I frequently talk about updating the WordPress core and plugins but when did you last update your theme? Updating the theme for security can sometimes break features on your web site (talk to your web designer).

However theme security is very important. Wordfence released a blog on which themes are hacker favourites.

If you’re using Genesis on your web site, it received an update (see screenshot above) as well as some of it’s child themes.

All the usual plugins (Yoast SEO, security plugins and JetPack) received updates in the past few weeks as well.

Java Jive

Oracle released a new Java version last month. Yes, you need to update Java as it is still required by some web sites to function.

A client asked me yesterday how often Java needs to be updated. Oracle releases Java updates every three months unless there is a significant security update they need to push out.

Apple

Apple released updates for iOS (all your iThingys), iTunes and some OS X updates as well.

It’s not just about security but also functionality. Yesterday I had a client where we couldn’t install the print app for her new printer because her iPad was so out of date.

Polish up your Apples with some updates this month.

Microsoft

Nine updates yesterday covering all Windows and Office products.

There was also a big Windows 10 update that caused problems for some computers. Avast antivirus decided it didn’t like the updates.

Also, increasingly I am getting calls from clients about Office software problems usually right after Office patches have been installed. Here’s a video on how to repair your Office installation.

Be sure to spend some time this week updating your web site and devices. An ounce of patching is cheaper than a pound of hacking.

Repair Office

Office 365: which version?

Office 365Office 365: which version?

I get asked this question a lot now from folks. Since Microsoft stopped selling the disc version of its popular Office software several years ago, it has forced people to buy their online download Office 365.

Which version?

I’ve created this video that shows you the different options and they mean. Pricing is per month or per year.

For business owners it’s important you know your technology needs for the next few years before picking a version. You can find it difficult and expensive to change versions.

Also the business versions really do require you get help from an IT professional to deploy in your organization.

Family fun

Microsoft does provide a great family pack version, 5 licenses for $99 a year. That includes tablets, phones and all platforms (Mac, iOS, Android and Windows).

Great deal for a household.

Patch Tuesday July 2016 news: hot off the printer

Patch Tuesday July 2016Patch Tuesday July 2016 news: hot off the printer.

Hot print

Microsoft released 11 patches yesterday for all versions of Windows and Office, six of them critical.

The most important patched fixed a 20 year old printer driver vulnerability (yes, it goes all the way back to Windows 95).

Always get your printer driver directly from the manufacturer. Dodgy drivers pave the road to malware.

More details about the printer vulnerability here.

More details about all the Microsoft patches yesterday here.

It won’t take long for hackers to reverse engineer these patches, so schedule an hour this week to update your Windows and Office software.

Hot off the WordPress

Lots of WordPress updates this month.

WordPress itself is updated to version 4.5.3.

Lots of plugin updates followed this event:

  • BackupBuddy 7.1.5.1
  • Jetpack 4.1.1
  • Quiz and Survey Master 4.7.6
  • Yoast SEO 3.3.4
  • WordFence Security 6.1.1.0

Most important plugin update? The All-In-One SEO plugin was updated to fix a nasty vulnerability. More information on that update here.

Be sure to update your WordPress web site monthly. If you don’t know how to do this, please contact me. You don’t want clients or potential clients getting malware from your web site.

Hot Flash

Adobe patched Flash yesterday for a stunning 57 vulnerabilities. The update is required for Mac, Windows and even Linux.

As a security bonus, Adobe also patch Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat.

Norton Burn

Updated your antivirus software recently? Always good to check if the program itself needs updates (not just the virus definitions).

Norton/Symantec users definitely need to update their software this month after the discovery of a nasty targeting that software. More information about the Norton/Symantec program problem here.

Be sure to spend some time this week updating and patching all your devices. An ounce of patching prevents of a pound of hacking.

Pump your health data

Pump Your Health DataPump your health data: you collect all that health data via smart devices, how can you use it?

Pump your health data

I was at my weekly business networking meeting and my personal insurance guy started talking about how Manulife Canada will start using your fitness data with a Vitality plan in 2017 to lower your life insurance cost.

Manulife already offers this in the United States and some other countries. You can upload data from your fitness tracker into their web site. You get personalized health goals and points for exercise and getting an annual health check.

Big Data

But how reliable is that data? Recently Fitbit took a hit when scientists tested their devices and found that they get heart rates wrong by 25 beats per minute.

Just the other week I saw a New Yorker cartoon with two runners, one had about twenty fitness trackers on his arm and cheerily informs his friend he gets paid to wear other people’s trackers. Got to wonder if insurance companies start to rely on this data, how soon there will be a booming business in fitness data fraud?

Who has access to your data?

Doctored Data

Currently there is no easy way to provide your doctor with data from your tracker. There are reports of folks trying to synchronize their devices with doctors’ computers, print outs of stats, even giving flash drives.

An engineer at the University of Toronto has created a bluetooth enabled app to transfer fitness tracker data to doctors’ computers.

But our health care system is really behind the times with technology and securing data. A recent U.S. study showed that medicos could be the world’s best security bypassers. Recently three U.S. hospitals were hacked because they were still using Windows XP.

Before we start using this data for insurance or doctor’s visit, we need to be sure on how reliable and how secure is the data.

Skinny options

Fitness trackers are coming down in price all the time (for example the Microsoft Band started at $329 and is now down to $199) but that’s still not affordable for everyone.

Currently I use the Microsoft Band, I can afford to live in the West End of Vancouver which is very walkable and runnable. I average over 11,000 steps a day.

However the single mother with two kids and two part time jobs and who lives in suburbs where’s there no sidewalks doesn’t have the same healthy options. But she still needs life insurance. Is her life insurance going to go up (and become unaffordable) because of Vitality plans like Manulife?

 

Logitech Z623 speakers review

Logitech Z623 speakersLogitech Z623 speakers: best boom for buck.

I decluttered my stereo years ago.  I was listening to music while working at my computer more and I have a small apartment. So I invested in really good computer 2.1 speakers and a great sound card. Much cheaper than a stereo and takes up less space.

2.1 speakers consist of a subwoofer and two smaller speakers. 5.1 speakers consist of a subwoofer and four smaller speakers. I ruled out 5.1 speakers as they take up too much space and would be too loud for my small apartment (I do like my neighbours).

Alas, my Altec Lansing 2.1 speakers died and I started to research how to replace them. Altec Lansing were the kings of computer speakers for years before they went bankrupt in 2012.

The problem is that most of the remaining speaker manufacturers now focus on wireless speakers and the sound quality is not the same unless you want to spend a fortune. Also I know how often I have to reconnect my bluetooth devices that seem to get uncoupled faster than Hollywood stars. I much prefer knowing that I don’t have to fiddle with my speakers or bluetooth on a regular basis.

Where to look?

Who still makes wired computer speakers? Bose, Harman Kardon and Logitech are the last companies that still make quality wired computer speakers.

The Bose speakers were just too expensive. Almost $500 and the reviews were mixed.

Harman Kardon are phasing out their wired speakers. I could find stock on the Soundsticks model but the subwoofer was very big and looked fragile. And the speakers were too large as well. There’s only so much room on my desk. Great reviews though.

Harman Kardon SoundSticks

Harmon Kardon SoundSticks

Logitech Z623 speakers

Z623 speakers were originally $300 and are now priced at $199.99.

They’re 2.1 speakers. The subwoofer is a little big but the two satellite speakers fit easily on my desk.

The sound is fabulous. Rich deep bass. Very crisp sound particularly on stringed instruments like guitar, cello and violin. I put on some Chet Baker and couldn’t believe how wonderful the trumpet sounded.

My old Altec Lansing speakers had a treble volume button. The Logitech speakers do not but I find the quality of the speakers is such that I rarely miss the treble button. Besides the volume there is also a bass button.

On the side of one of the speakers there is a headphone jack (yay!) and a jack for plugging in your MP3 player of choice. I tested that feature with my iPod and it worked well.

On the subwoofer, besides the standard PC jack, there are also RCA jacks to connect to other devices. I wasn’t able to get that to work with my TV even after fiddling with the outputs menu on my Toshiba. I wanted to test the Thx certification for movies. Not a deal breaker for me but if you hoped to replace your TV speakers with these it could be a problem.

Looking to replace your computer speakers? Don’t want to be fiddling with bluetooth connections? Logitech Z623: best boom for buck.

LinkedIn Breach

LinkedIn BreachYou should have received an email about the LinkedIn breach a few weeks ago.

What does it mean?

LinkedIn was hacked back in 2012 and user names and passwords were stolen. The hacker sat on this information for four years and then posted them online this May.

LinkedIn forced a password reset for those users who hadn’t changed their password since 2012. And they have improved their security.

However if you reused this password for any other accounts you are at risk.

In fact, Facebook and Twitter reset passwords for users they deemed at risk from this breach.

Not just LinkedIn

In the last four weeks alone, Tumblr and MySpace reported their databases were hacked as well.

More notorious recent database hacks include Sony Playstation and Ashley Madison.

How do you protect yourself?

Don’t reuse the same password over and over again.

If you need help with this, get a password manager like LastPass. Good password managers can generate secure and unique passwords for all of your accounts.

LastPass will even examine your existing passwords and determine if you’ve reused the password and check how secure and complex the password is.

I think people reuse passwords because it is too difficult to create complex passwords and remember them for all the accounts you have as a small business owner.

Invest in a password manager.