Category Archives: social networking

Digital Sheep – Grazing on the Internet

imageWith the Internet and social media providing instant satisfaction and entertainment, it’s very easy to get caught up in consuming an absurd amount of information. Instead of being spoon fed commercials and media from a handful of television channels, now it is coming from everywhere and directly to your person at all times. Though people still have the freedom to comment and believe what they will, the vast majority of internet users have simply evolved into digital sheep devouring content constantly.

In the modern age, digital sheep are information technology users (more specifically, Internet users) who are happy and satisfied to “graze” off the vast information fields available on the web. In other words, they’re just consumers, not bothering to produce anything—but more importantly, are unaware of the potential consequences of their attitude and behavior.

“But, wait, now,” you might say, “haven’t most people always preferred to be consumers rather than creators? Isn’t it true only a handful of people have written books, magazines and newspapers for the general population?”

For sure, media from the beginning has been lopsided—i.e., the many have always consumed what the few have created. The Internet, however, has greatly changed the playing field, and not just in terms of aesthetics or of professional responsibilities.

The Internet is a place where people come to not only be entertained, to socialize and to be educated, it’s also a place where they come to work, to share information and to connect with other people in ways that go beyond “socializing.” In other words, people now have an opportunity to participate more meaningfully in the process called “media” than ever before.

Beyond that, being just a consumer carries with it a few negative connotations and dangerous burdens. For one thing, it means that people are accepting what they read, often without analyzing it for accuracy and acceptability; it also means that they are following rather than making any attempt to lead or to at least participate meaningfully in the process.

The question everyone has to ask is, “Do I want to be ‘digital sheep,’ or do I want to actually participate in the information creation and evaluation diaspora?”

The fact is that few people, given the chance, would formally elect to be “digital sheep.” In fact, one might say that this is one of the mishaps of the information age—i.e., having people who have fallen into the role, without having been given much of a choice. On the other hand, everyone has a choice. The problem is that some people aren’t exercising it.

If you wish to avoid becoming (or presently being, as the case may be), digital sheep, these suggestions may be of use:

1. Become aware of the burdens and responsibilities inherent in Digital Asset Management (DAM) marketplace. By becoming better aware of the technology, you might better avoid becoming a victim of its intricacies and demands.

2. Don’t fall into the “follow the information Pied Piper” syndrome. Always look at what you read closely, deciding if you really want to follow, challenge what you read, or build on what is offered.

3. Listen to peers on your own level or beneath you (in position or training), not just so called “A-list” experts and pundits.

4. Don’t just attend networking events attended only by big shots—you can get important information from other venues as well.

5. Expand the quality and versatility of your reading material. Sticking, for example, to technical blogs or certain news sources may hamper your intellectual growth.

6. Read material beyond what you catch on the Internet. And don’t just focus on the material on the first few pages put there by search engines. Search engines have their agenda—it shouldn’t necessarily coincide with your yours.

7. Strive to write blogs, articles or even responses to materials you read. By doing so, you’re engaging with, not just consuming, material on the Internet.

8. Strive to become more technologically savvy. Find out, for example, what’s going on within the phone app developing industry. This will help to keep you educated within one of the fastest growing industries: the mobile device industry.

9. Become more of a risk taker. Digital sheep are content to just exist and don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Well, risk is usually involved in any great achievement opportunity.

10. Meaningfully connect with people, establishing relationships that will mutually enhance lives. When you connect with people, you’re less likely to treat them like sheep; by the same token, people are less likely to treat you as sheep if they look up to you and respect you.

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Point of View, social networking

Thumbing Your Way To Friendship?

Grab a cup of coffee:

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Dine out at your favorite restaurant:

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Spend some time at the museum:

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Meet at a popular diner:

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Relax at the beach:

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Go to a game:

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Going out on a date:

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Take a drive around town:

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From “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?”Thedailybeast.com/newsweek

Questions about the Internet’s deleterious effects on the mind are at least as old as hyperlinks. But even among Web skeptics, the idea that a new technology might influence how we think and feel—let alone contribute to a great American crack-up—was considered silly and naive, like waving a cane at electric light or blaming the television for kids these days. Instead, the Internet was seen as just another medium, a delivery system, not a diabolical machine. It made people happier and more productive. And where was the proof otherwise?

Now, however, the proof is starting to pile up. The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of Web utopians have allowed. The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.

I’m not convinced that the Web is driving us mad but, if the photos above are any indication it seems to be affecting our social behavior. Disconnection is rampant; discourtesy is epidemic; empathy seems to be a long forgotten phenomenon.

Just saying.

The other side of the coin100 year-old Idaho woman on Jay Leno show. You’ll love this lady – she has a view or two you might share – even on on “thumb texting.”

A shout out to my good buddy Mike for sharing these photos. Since these photos came by way of email, I’ve not been able to track the originating site. If they originated at your site, please let me know so that I can link back and credit you accordingly.

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Filed under addiction, Point of View, social networking

The Next Big Thing: Trading In Your Sunglasses For… Instagram Glasses?

imageAt this point you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t completely enamored with the photo app Instagram, and if they aren’t regularly using it then they’ve at least probably heard of it. The app has erupted in popularity since its debut in October 2010.

Now, nearly every Facebook page and Twitter account boasts pictures that have been dutifully Instagrammed to perfection. The app has even become a social media forum in its own right; where users can give their stamp of approval for pictures and comment accordingly.

When the app first launched it initially was exclusive for iPhone users, however it quickly became a popular pastime, and as it grew in popularity Android users began to demand access to the app as well. Instagram delivered, and since then the company has been acquired by social media conglomerate Facebook, catapulting it to any even higher level of success. At this point it almost begs the question of “what’s next?”

Well, Markus Gerke released a plan for a potential next step for Instagram… Instaglasses. This concept is practically designed for the hipster generation.

The glasses, designed to function as sunglasses, would have a button on the side that would allow you to filter your view of life as you wore them into different Instagram filters, giving you a nice sepia tone for the view of the park, or perhaps a Polaroid view of your nephew. You would essentially become a walking piece of photo-editing software, ready at a moment’s notice to capture a photo-worthy shot of life.

“You activate the glasses by pushing ‘Insta’ and option to choose between different filters. Are you enjoying a moment? Just take a picture with your glasses and upload the image straight to Instagram,” Gerke said about the glasses.

So basically, if you happened to stumble across a particularly spectacular scene (or even just a mediocre one because let’s be honest, Instagram is full of photos of feet and food) during your everyday life, then you wouldn’t even need to get out your camera or phone – you could just filter the scene as you see fit and then snap a photograph with the glasses. The picture would then automatically upload to Instagram.

As it states on the Behance website, where the concept for the glasses is showcased, “life is beautiful, even more beautiful with filters.”

While it does sound like an intriguing concept and is a brilliant display of technology, the thought of filtering our everyday perception of the world also seems a little strange, and even seems almost too futuristic for our own good.

Do we really want to walk around changing our realities all day? Is this an idea that would actually catch on? While people are certainly caught up in the easy photo-editing craze, it also makes you wonder how long this fad is going to last, and how long people are going to continue to wear sunglasses during all hours of the day and night.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Kate Croston – a freelance writer who holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing home internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to:  katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Digital Media, Guest Writers, Integrated Solutions, social networking

PC Tools Predicts New Breeds of Social Media Cyber Scams

imagePC Tools, the company which brings you PC Tools Firewall Plus (free), ThreatFire (free), and of course a complete line of award-winning commercial grade security offerings, is issuing this consumer alert advising the rollout of new social media sites and features, are leading to a fresh crop of online scams and threats.

PC Tools Top Three Social Network Threat Predictions

Email alerts for “tagged” photos where YOU might appear online.

Social networks are developing increased intelligence for facial recognition to assist with tagging photos. When you’re tagged in a photo or at a location in your photo album, you can often expect an email or notification letting you know where to view it online. Watch out!

Cybercriminals may be using this as a tactic to get you to click on malicious links asking for information – possibly even prompting you to click on a link leading to a fake login and password entry form posing as your social network.

Online robots or “bots” on social networking sites will be more sophisticated

We believe within the next few months that social media “bots” will become more advanced, effectively creating human-looking profiles and personalities. Cybercriminals rely on bots because they are the fastest and most cost-effective way to spread malware, spyware and scams through social network sites.

Through these bots, criminals can auto-create bogus personalities on social networks, which can in turn link to fake companies that sell phony products – all to trick users into buying merchandise that isn’t real or spreading news that doesn’t actually exist.

An increase in fake invites to join “new” or “exclusive” social networks or social groups

New social networks are popping up every day, some of which are “invite only” making them more appealing. Cybercriminals could use this appeal as a method to lure users into clicking on fake invites for exclusive networks. Upon clicking on these invites, users could be asked to provide personal details such as name, login, password or birthdates which should not be released.

“If you’re looking to join the hottest new social network, be careful where you click – your personal life may be at risk,” said Mike Chen, Product Marketing Manager at PC Tools. “Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the buzz surrounding these new social networks and features by tricking unsuspecting users to divulge personal information or download malware.”

Chen added that today’s malware looks legitimate, but what may seem like a harmless email or link can actually result in a person’s stolen identity or credit card data theft. And according to Pew Research, 46% of internet users agree that “most people can be trusted” – a prime reason why cybercriminals are so successful at duping consumers.

About PC Tools:

With offices located in Australia, Ireland, United States, United Kingdom and the Ukraine. PC Tools is a fast-growing brand with dedicated Research and Development teams that ensure PC Tools maintains a competitive edge. With registered customers in over 180 countries and millions of downloads to date, PC Tools’ products continue to win awards and gain recommendations from respected reviewers and independent testing labs around the world.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, PC Tools, Safe Surfing, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools

Join The Crowd – Snoop On Your Kids Internet Privacy – 55% Of Brits Do!

imageDo you monitor your children’s online activity? Is an invasion of your child’s privacy on such a scale, necessary? Do you tell yourself that you’re just being prudent?

We know from survey after survey, that teenagers have misplaced confidence in their ability to stay safe online. While the majority of teenagers say they are confident they can remain safe online, survey results continue to show a wide gap exists between the perception, and the reality.

Even so – is that state of affairs cause for alarm? Or, have parents been manipulated into a state of “perverts run amok” fear and anxiety, by a mainstream media which is expert at molding public perception – à la Rupert Murdoch and his now defunct News of the World? The fear mongering practiced by parental control security providers, I’ll leave for another time.

Given the often accepted (but, statistically false) notion that children/teenagers are in mortal danger in a technological age with its easy access to social networking, mobile communication (and all that entails), lost in the translation, it seems to me, are the practical benefits for adolescents that technology provides.

It would be difficult to argue to the contrary, that today’s young people face a tough, harsh “World”, the World of the Internet and attached devices –  in which the technology itself, the content it delivers and its instant contact capabilities – come with associated risks.

Undoubtedly, there are age specific potential risks but, snooping on your child’s or your adolescent’s online activity, is hardly what could be called – a positive influence. Certainly not when communication – the sharing of knowledge and safety strategies – coupled with effective guidance, is much more likely to lead to the results that all parents are seeking.

The reality is – staying safe in today’s techno centric world demands knowledge, and acquiring that knowledge requires that a major effort be made to obtain it. If you, as a parent, see the need to positively influence your young person’s technology habits then, you must make the effort to acquire the appropriate knowledge.

On the other hand, you can always take the easy way out and – just snoop. If you so choose, rest assured that you’ll have lots of company.

According to a recently released study commissioned by security application provider BullGuard, made up of 2000 interviews of internet users across the UK – 55% of parents “keep an eye” on a son or daughter by checking their social networking profile, with a further 5% saying “they would if they knew how”.

This snooping doesn’t stop there however – 76% of respondents say they check Internet history to ensure children aren’t visiting unsuitable websites –  21% check instant messaging history, and 23% snoop through email accounts.

Additional information on the survey is available here.

Young people value their privacy – just as we all do. I suspect that those parents who routinely violate this privacy compact, as the 55% of respondents to this survey apparently do, may well have additional issues (other than a lack of appropriate parenting skills), with which they need to deal. I suspect that their mental balance sheet is more than a little skewed.

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Filed under Internet Safety for Teenagers, Online Safety, Point of View, social networking, Social Networks, Windows Tips and Tools

GigaTribe Private P2P – Share Your Videos, Pics, And Docs Privately

image A few days ago, I ran a few tests on peer to peer downloads, on the off chance that things had improved in this malware infested playground. No such luck, of course.

Of the five game files that I downloaded, every one came packed with a Trojan downloader, which, had I installed any of these applications, would have wrecked havoc on my test machine.

In a nutshell, that’s the main problem with public peer to peer file sharing. The chances are high, that you will not get what you think you will, and you will get what you don’t think you will.

Additional issues (but not the only issues) are:

Privacy: When you are connected to file-sharing programs, you may unintentionally allow others to copy confidential files you did not intend to share.

Spyware: There’s a chance that the file-sharing program you’re using has installed other software known as spyware to your computer’s operating system. I can assure you that spyware can be difficult to detect and remove.

So what’s a fellow to do who enjoys file sharing, and who doesn’t want to be burned by the cybercriminals who skulk on public file sharing networks, searching for victims?

A terrific solution to this quandary is a free application from GigaTribe. An application which is designed to create a private network between you, and your friends, relatives, co-workers, or, whomever you choose.

If you have every used peer to peer software, then you’ll find no learning curve involved in using GigaTribe – it’s functional, efficient, attractive, and “follow the bouncing ball” intuitive.

How much more simply can it be than this:

GigaTribe

The following graphic is from the publisher’s site.

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Fast facts:

GigaTribe has more than 1, 600,000 users.
Its unique technology has been developed by talented programmers with a strong history in the software industry.

There are no limitations on quantity or file size.
All your files are kept on your hard drive, eliminating the need to transfer them to an external server.

Files are available in their original format.
In just a few clicks, you can share and also find files as if you were in a virtual library. You will see files as they were organized on the hard drive, and you can download them in their original format.

You don’t waste time uploading files.
Once you select which folders you want to share, the contents of those folders are instantly accessible to your friends.

Your files remain yours!
Files you have decided to share are not saved on another company’s equipment. You keep your data under your control.

It´s a two-way sharing service.
Each contact can both share and download. You decide which content is worth downloading among the files available to you.

You may invite up to 500 friends.

Transfer automatically resumes.
If a download is interrupted (for example, if a contact goes offline), the transfer automatically resumes with no loss of data when your contact comes back online.

Security is, of course, GigaTribe´s major concern.

Only the people you have invited can see your files. Only the folders you have selected are visible to your contacts. Every exchange is strongly encrypted – No one can see what is being shared.

Downloads are encrypted (Blowfish 256-bit).

As an added bonus, users’ can create profiles, and have access to personal chat and a private blog, all from within the program. Now that’s cool!

According to the developers, GigaTribe (although I haven’t tested this), can also be used to access your PC from a remote location.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Server 2008, Windows 7. (no indication on the publisher’s site of x64 compatibility).

Languages: English, Español, Français, Deutsch, Italiano, Português

Download at: Gigatribe

It’s not often that I can rate an application 100%, but GigaTribe comes very close. A superb application! If you’re into private file sharing, or it’s something that you’ve considered, then give GigaTribe a whirl – I think you’ll be glad you did.

For additional information checkout the developer’s FAQ.

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Networking, Peer to Peer, Privacy, social networking, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Web of Trust (WOT) And Facebook Collaborate To Protect Users From Malicious Links

imageIf you’re a Facebook user and you haven’t met a cybercriminal yet; hang in there – you will. Survey after survey continue to show that cybercriminals are picking off Facebook users as if they were shooting fish in a barrel.

Most cybercriminal schemes on Facebook are outrageous. But the bad guys know, that even the most outrageous schemes stand a better than average chance of being successful when targeted at Facebook’s largely unaware, and unsophisticated, user base.

With the collaborative effort announced today by Facebook and Web of Trust, WOT will now provide protection against dubious and malicious web links, that Facebook users continue to be exposed to. When a Facebook user clicks a link that leads to a page with a poor reputation rating as defined by the WOT community, Facebook will show a clear warning message.

Click on graphic to expand to original.

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The plan is to roll out to US users 100% on May 12, and then the following week, after the translators have time to finish their work, roll out globally.

A quick reminder:

WOT’s Browser add-on users see reputation icons on Web sites, Google search results, email links, Twitter, as well as shortened URLs. WOT ratings are recalculated every 30 minutes to ensure users have the freshest and most reliable information. The free WOT add-on works in all web browsers and can be downloaded here.

You can read a full review on the benefits of adding WOT to your Browser here on this site – WOT (Web of Trust) – Is It The Most Important Browser Security Add-on You Need To Install?

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser Plug-ins, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, FaceBook, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Malware Protection, Online Safety, social networking, Social Networks, Software, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)