Did email bring down Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton emailDid email bring down Hillary Clinton? Technology played a big part in the recent U.S. election but did bad tech advice change the result?

That email server

I don’t believe Hillary Clinton and her team were really trying to hide email with their setup. She wanted to use her Blackberry for emails.  I get that she wanted to use her favourite phone. The security setup when she was Secretary of State did not allow for Blackberry use for security reasons and for freedom of access legislation. She valued her tech comfort over security and the law. And her advisors did not tell her no.

Sometimes you have to say no in technology. If your business gets personal information that falls under PIPEDA (the federal privacy law) or PIPA (the British Columbia law), you have to store your digital assets in Canada. I’m amazed at business owners who insist they can use Google email and Google documents despite falling under the privacy law. One business owner actually told me no one cares security and privacy anyway. People do care and it’s the law. Clinton found that out the hard way.

But did she lose over the email server fiasco?

No. Even she hadn’t been silly about the email server, her opponents would have found or invented something else to castigate her with.  As we saw during Obama’s 2008 campaign and thereafter, Obama was accused of not being born in the United States. Totally untrue but the legend lives on in the web.

And Election2016 was rife with misinformation on the Internet. I gave up on directing people to www.snopes.com to fact check before they posted. Twitterbots were used by both sides to flood social media.

I’m amazed the Trump campaign didn’t revive the Hillary Clinton headband debate from the 90s.

Both candidates were/are extremely weak in the technology policies of their platforms. One tech website accused them of being Luddites. And it’s scary given how important technology is for business, the our politicians (Canadian ones are just as bad) are not making this a priority and not getting the best advisors.

If Trump actually goes through with some of his promises, I expect we shall see the big U.S. tech companies move more resources to Canada and other countries. Microsoft has already expanded their Vancouver operations because it’s easier for them to bring in skilled foreign workers to Canada than it is to the United States. Trump will make it more difficult for U.S. companies to bring in skilled foreign workers. And he will force a showdown with Apple about creating a backdoor for law enforcement into their products.



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.

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.

Windows 10: tales from the upgrade whirlwind

Windows 10 whirlwindWindows 10: tales from the upgrade whirlwind.

Microsoft continues to ram Windows 10 down people’s throats: from interrupting a weather forecast, a livestream video game, I’ve had clients tell me they’ve repeatedly said no to the update and then turned around to find it upgrading their computer without their clicked consent.

The good news is that you have thirty days to roll back the upgrade (go Start, Settings, Upgrades and Security, click on Recovery).

Why would you rollback?

Besides having your consent violated, why would rollback from the better security and other features of Windows 10?

Some legacy software won’t work with Windows 10.

Increasingly I’m finding that Windows 10 and Office 2010 (and earlier versions) don’t play nicely together. Most of the failed or traumatizing Windows 10 upgrades I’ve seen have involved Office 2010.

I’m running the latest version of Office on my laptop and it has had no Windows 10 update trauma. My desktop, running Office 2010, has conniptions now every monthly update cycle.

And now Microsoft has the gall to spam my screen with 50% off offers to upgrade my Office version. Arggh!

Repair versus Reset

Another reason to avoid upgrading to Windows 10 is the removal of the repair option. Instead of being able to do a repair install of Windows, now with Windows 10 there is only a reset option.

The difference? The repair install usually saved most of the software installations on the computer. This is huge if you have a lot of different software installs (such as accountants with programs for each tax year).

The reset feature in Windows 10 blows away all the software even Office. The reset does save all the files but no software.

Before you upgrade, you need to look at using an image version backup for your system.

End of Windows 10 whirlwind

Deadline for the free upgrade is July 30th. Microsoft has promised to stop the nagware then.

Buying a new smartphone for business

Buying a new smartphone for your business? Confused by all the options and the hype? What’s the best bang for your business buck?

Don’t rely on Facebook advice or your kids to make this decision.

Consider before you buy

What should you consider before you buy? Before I got my new phone in December I reviewed my cell phone bills for the last year and noted my data usage. Two reasons for this: one my contract was up for renewal and I needed to pick a data usage plan and second to figure out much storage space I required on the new phone.

How do you use your phone for business? What apps?

If your smartphone is your primary business phone, long battery life is important.

If you download or create a lot of files like pictures and videos for your business, built-in storage space and the ability to add an SD card is really important. It’s cheaper to add storage than to drag it down over your data plan.

How big a screen do you need? Do you read big documents on the phone? Do you have older eyesight?

How does the phone operating system and apps work with your other devices? If you’re all Apple person, an Android phone would mean more time spent learning the Android system and getting it to synchronize with your other devices.

Let’s summarize the considerations:

  1. Review your cellphone bills for the last year for data usage
  2. Do you need really good battery life
  3. How much storage space do you need
  4. Need good camera and video for business
  5.  How big a screen do you need?
  6. Phone operating system works with your other devices easily

Through The Glass Darkly

Sapphire Glass? Gorilla glass? What the difference? Both are hardened glass designed to resist scratches and breakage. Gorilla glass has a slight edge in weight and resistance to breakage.

If you’re at high risk for breakage (like construction work) or previously you’ve cracked or broken your phone, go for Gorilla Glass and an Otterbox case.

What phone I picked

I went with the Windows phone, a Nokia Lumia 630. Why?

  1. My existing phone was Windows, no learning curve
  2. Preloaded with Office so I can create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files
  3. OneNote, which I use a lot for client site visits automatically synchronized with my desktop and laptop
  4. Has all the other business apps I need like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.
  5. Camera more than adequate for my point and shoot business needs
  6. Ability to add SD card for more storage space if required
  7. Good battery life
  8. Customizable home screen

The glory of the Windows phone for me is the ability to completely customize the home screen. You can choose the tiles, the size of the tiles of the placement of the tiles according to your needs. See picture. Also I can easily separate my work exchange email account from my personal email. Less time wasted finding apps I need right away.

Smartphone for business

Also because I went from a Windows phone to another Windows Phone it transferred over my call history and text message history.

Because Windows phones are not as popular as Android and Apple, I got the phone free with my contract renewal. If had gone with an Android with similar hardware specs, it would have cost me at least $500.

One more picture: viewing one of my PowerPoint presentations on the phone. It displays the slide, the notes and has an edit option.

windows phone powerpoint




Top legal risks for 2016: four of them are tech related

Legal Tech RisksTop 10 legal risks for business in 2016: four of them are tech related. Are you ready? Is your business ready?

Borden Ladner Gervais, a national law firm in Canada, just released their top 10 legal risk for business in 2016 report. I recommend any business owner read it the full report (you can download it here) but I want to focus on the four risks that relate to technology.

Privacy Class Actions

The first of their tech risks for 2016 is the growing prevalence of privacy class action lawsuits.  What is this? Say your firm has a database of customer information containing sensitive information such as birthdates, credit card information, anything that falls under PIPA and PIPEDA laws. The database gets breached, could be by hackers or employees, and your firm is at fault for the breach.

According to the BLG report, folks are filing more and more class action lawsuits for such breaches.

And if you’re at fault your insurance won’t cover you.

I’ve written more about data privacy and business here.

Workplace Cyber Sex and IT Security

Last year saw the Ashley Madison web site hack with full disclosure of their database of customers. One of the more interesting and scary things from that information was the number of people who signed up for the web site using their professional or work email addresses.

It’s a classic example of how increasingly employees use their companies technology for personal reasons. And your business reputation is at risk. And your computer systems are at risk.

To mitigate this risk, you need to put in an acceptable use policy for your employees and educate them regularly as to what it means.

Fraud in E-Payment Systems

Paying for your cup of coffee with your phone? Use a digital wallet? How secure is it?

As people switch to using mobile devices to pay for stuff expect hackers and thieves to follow the money.


The CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) started handing out the first fines last year to Canadian companies spewing spam under CASLS the Canadian spam law. Most of the offenders were sending emails or CEMS (commercial electronic messages) without consent and without the required unsubscribe mechanism. Fines ranged from $48,000 to a whopping $1.1 million.

Have you reviewed your email newsletters or CEMS since CASLS became law?

And do read the rest of the report.

What do you do when your web site gets hacked

Web site hackedWhat do you when your web site gets hacked?

I always cringe when I get a call from a business owner who has just had their web site hacked. Even if they don’t have an e-commerce portion to their web site, they’re losing money because potential clients are getting nasty warnings from their antivirus about their business or they’re getting infected. It’s very serious.

How do you prevent it?

Think of your web site like an operating system with software. You know you need to regularly patch your computer’s operating system and software to prevent hackers from getting in. WordPress is your web site’s operating system, the plugins are the software.

And hackers love attacking WordPress web sites run by small businesses. I could quote a ton of statistics for you but just install the free version of the Wordfence plugin and watch the numbers of web miscreants from all over the world poke your web site just in one hour.

So patch regularly and install security plugins on your web site. If you don’t have the time to learn how to do this, hire someone.

What do you do if site gets hacked?

Stop what you’re doing and deal with it the minute you find out. Contact your web hosting company and your web site developer.

There are third party companies that specialize in web site clean up. Sucuri comes highly recommended by web site developers and can clean up your web site in under 24 hours. And they can get your web site off the Google blacklist.


Why do you need a password manager?

password managerWhy do you need a password manager?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I get calls about lost passwords. Sometimes it’s for lost wi-fi logins, sometimes for routers, servers, laptops, documents, web sites. I marvel at how many passwords I have now both for business and personal compared to even three years ago.

Three years ago was when I decided I was overdue to get a password manager.

What is a password manager?

Sometimes called a password vault, a password manager is a digital safe to store your user names, passwords, codes, even credit card information. The more sophisticated ones allow you to synchronize the information across your devices (phone, desktop, laptop, tablet) so you always have the information and it is always up to date. Enterprise password managers allow you to share company passwords with select employees or partners.

Password managers also help you create more secure passwords. It can be tricky on some web sites to come up with the right combination of letters, numbers, capital letters, punctuation marks that meet the requirements of the web site and that you can remember but hackers can’t guess.

Why do you need a password manager?

Besides helping you create more secure passwords, password managers help you store the information securely and keep it up to date.

Frequently I see clients who have to search through pages and pages of notebooks (or stickies) to find the more current password for an account. A good password manager usually has a search feature that lets you locate the information quickly. LastPass, which I use, also lets me file the information in folders which also makes it easier to find information.

Password managers definitely save time by making it easier to find information but also by automatically logging you into the web sites you use frequently. How much time you spend logging into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your business banking web site, your vendors’ web sites?

Besides the being able to share the passwords with business partners and employees, you can also share your personal digital information with your power of attorney or executor.

How to choose

Lifehacker did a great review of the top 5 password managers, definitely worth a read.

Make sure you chose a password manager that works with all your devices (Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, etc.). Make sure it is well established and well funded (i.e. how long have they been around and do they have a sustainable business model). The last thing you want is to get duped by hackers or to put in the effort to get all your information into the manager and then have it disappear.

And choose a very secure master password for it. Don’t use the same password for the master password as you use for any other account. It should be very long and complicated.


Why is outdated technology risky for your business?

Why is outdated technology risky for your business?

I know it can be a pain to update your business technology: it costs money, time and you have to learn new stuff.

But there are huge risks for not updating. If you’re more visual, see the infographic below. If you learn more easily from text, keep reading.

Top 3 reasons outdated tech is risky

  1. System crashes – lost data and time
  2. Increased costs fixing old computers – one study shows that its costs 2 times as much to support a Windows XP computer than a newer operating system.
  3. Security holes – you’re risking your client data, credit and banking information and your company reputation.

That’s just from the owner perspective. One Microsoft study shows that 61% of customers thinks a small business is out of date if they’re using an operating system that is over 5 years old. There’s one major chain in Vancouver where I only use cash because their point of sale system is running on Windows XP.

Advantages of Upgrading

Forty-nine percent of small business owners say new technology such as cloud technology has been a key factor in allowing them to grow.

Sixty-six percent of owners say upgrading technology reduced their other IT costs.

Forty-nine percent of small business owners reported that new technology help them compete against larger organizations.

And, most importantly, 94% of business gain security advantages from upgrading.

Recently L’Oreal upgraded their systems because their existing systems were too slow and too confusing for their sales people. You can read the case study here.

Got outdated technology? Got an old computer? Need more mobile solutions? It’s time to upgrade.

Why is outdated tech risky for your business



Windows 10 Essentials in Video

Windows 10 Essentials

Windows 10: is it really an upgrade from 8.1 or just another graphic nightmare tacked on top of Windows 7? Here’s some Windows 10 Essentials in video.

It is an upgrade and it’s a lot of work to get it configured properly.

Windows 10 Settings

Again, Microsoft has spliced a new Settings area onto the old reliable Control Panel.

See my Youtube video about the how to find essential settings in Windows 10.

Privacy Settings

Microsoft used the excuse of an upgrade to pillage your personal information. I don’t care that we got the upgrade for free. Microsoft only made nominal amounts selling upgrade versions of its operating systems. And quite frankly it owed consumers after Windows 8.

Even simple things like Do Not Track in the new Edge browser have been turned off. The old Family settings from Windows 7 and 8 have been wiped out so now you have to register your child on a Microsoft web site.

I show you how to get back most of your privacy in this video:

New Browser On the Edge

There are some groovy features in the Edge browser but it looks quite different than Internet Explorer. There are no plugins or addins allowed. Stripped down interface with not a lot of help if you’re lost.

You can access the old Internet Explorer from Edge but for how long? Who knows? I couldn’t find anything from Microsoft about how long that will last and how secure it will be. This August 2015 Patch Tuesday there is a Flash patch for Internet Explorer on Windows 10.

This video will show you how to navigate around Edge