Tag Archives: Communication

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

Skype – Right for Your Life? Part Two

image As many of you know, last week Google announced free phone calls to “real phones”, not just PC to PC calls , using Gmail as the launch platform. After kicking the tires on this new Google service, I came away very impressed.

The buzz, all this week, on this new offering from Google, seemed to center around the (negative) impact on Skype, the granddaddy of “free” communication applications. Personally, I don’t buy into the negative impact view.

If the  installed application base means anything, and it does, then Skype, with its 560 million registered users, versus Gmail’s 200 million users (of which only a small percentage have signed up for the new service), would have to commit a series of critical blunders to lose market position.

We’ve seen market leaders stumble and fall in the past of course, but Skype has always been highly proactive to changing market conditions. In the past few days, for example, Skype has released version 5.0 Beta 2 for Windows which includes the following new features.

New in version 5.0 Beta 2:

10-way group video calling – Making a 10-way group video call requires a very fast computer, the minimum system requirements for is Intel Core2duo 2 GHz CPU or equivalent, the recommended CPU is Intel i7.

Skype Home experience – Skype Home is a new area in Skype which provides relevant updates for you, including information about your purchases, your friends’ mood message updates, and videos to help new users get started with Skype.

Offline instant messaging – You can send and receive messages from your friends who are offline at the moment. The messages will be delivered at the moment when the other party or you will sign in to Skype, even if your friend is not online anymore.

New contact search and add experience

Enhanced call experience under problematic conditions – Built in client messaging which informs you about potential issues with the call and what to do to improve your call quality.

Post call experience

General User Interface refresh – Numerous updates to Skype’s left side screen there is a new profile and mood message entrance area as part of Skype Home

Regular users are familiar with the following standard features.

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature invaluable.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

image

Available Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

image

System requirements:

Windows XP, Vista or 7

Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

Note: beta versions are still a work in progress, so you might find the odd bug.

I’ll continue to use both Skype and Google Voice as complimentary applications (not competitive applications), since each applications excels in areas that are not necessarily crossovers.

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Filed under Communication, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Skype, Software, Video Calling, Web Cam Applications, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

I’m a Canadian and I Now Own a Piece of Skype!

image Like most working Canadians, I am required to contribute a percentage of my earnings to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), a government retirement plan, which will provide me with a monthly pension benefit on retirement. Well, that’s the promise.

This is a bit of a joke, since I have yet to meet a retired person who could survive on this benefit – although there may be some, somewhere.

Since most of my family are Americans, I’m reasonably familiar with that country’s Social Security program as well. So, the lack of adequate income upon retirement produced by Social Security, is also a familiar refrain.

It’s not startling news of course that government run plans such as these, are generally poorly managed; often producing a less than adequate return on investment, which naturally leads to a reduction in income stream at retirement, for those who have contributed over a working lifetime

I was surprised then (actually I was shocked), to learn this morning, that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has taken an investment position in Skype, my favorite Internet communication application. My first thought – maybe the Canada Pension Plan has decided to reassess its antiquated investment rules, and boldly step into the twenty first century.

It has long been rumored that eBay was looking for a buyer for its Skype internet phone service and today it appears it’s a “done deal”. eBay Inc. is spinning off Skype in a deal worth more than $2 billion US, to an investor group that includes the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. eBay however, will continue to hold a 35 per cent stake in Skype.

So, faithful reader, if you want to ensure my Canada Pension contributions add up to something more than a miserly sum when I retire, consider adding Skype to your list of must have applications.

You won’t regret it, and hopefully, neither will I since I’m sure to need the money on retirement.

All kidding aside, Skype is a terrific free application; an application I would be lost without. I use it through the day, every day, to communicate by video calling worldwide for free.

Take a look at my earlier review of Skype, and you might be surprised at the impact this application can have on your communications.

Skype – Right for Your Life?

Despite the fact that I’m an early adopter of most technology, surprisingly, it took me forever to give Skype a try. For communicating, I found the old fashioned telephone worked; and it does what it’s supposed to do with a minimum of fuss and bother. Just pick it up, dial and voila – instant communication. What could be simpler and easier than that?

As I found out, after giving Skype a test drive – maybe this free communication application! In fact, it has now become my preferred method of contact. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

Kudos to my good friend TechPaul, at Tech for Everyone, for finally convincing me to give Skype a test drive. I’m glad I did.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

image

Fast facts:

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature fascinating.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

System requirements: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux. Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

3 Comments

Filed under Communication, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Peer to Peer, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, Video Calling, VOIP, Windows Tips and Tools

Skype – Right for Your Life?

Despite the fact that I’m an early adopter of most technology, surprisingly, it took me forever to give Skype a try. For communicating, I found the old fashioned telephone worked; and it does what it’s supposed to do with a minimum of fuss and bother. Just pick it up, dial and voila – instant communication. What could be simpler and easier than that?

As I found out, after giving Skype a test drive – maybe this free communication application! In fact, it has now become my preferred method of contact. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

Kudos to my good friend TechPaul, at Tech for Everyone, for finally convincing me to give Skype a test drive. I’m glad I did.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

image

(Credit: CNET)

Fast facts:

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature fascinating.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

System requirements:

Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.

Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

6 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Communication, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Peer to Peer, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, Video Calling, VOIP, Windows Tips and Tools