Internet

WhatsApp offline

WhatsApp offline

WhatsApp users around the world were unable to use the messaging service for several hours on Wednesday.

Reports that there were problems with the app, which has more than 1.2 billion users globally, first began to appear at about 20:00 GMT.

WhatsApp said in a brief statement that it was “aware of the issue and working to fix it as soon as possible”.

By about 22:30 GMT, most users were reporting that they were able to send and receive messages again.

But according to both the DownDetector and Outage Report websites, some people have continued to have problems.

‘Inconvenience’

There has been no comment from WhatsApp on what caused the issue, nor how widespread it was.

A second statement from the company, released after the service had been restored, said: “Earlier today, WhatsApp users in all parts of the world were unable to access WhatsApp for a few hours.

“We have now fixed the issue and apologise for the inconvenience.”

Dave Anderson, a digital experience expert at Dynatrace, told the BBC he believed it was likely that an update to the app had caused the problem.

“WhatsApp send a new version of the app to the stores every few days, and they’re likely to be pushing code changes every hour to get ready for that,” he said.

“Each development comes with a risk.

“It only takes one line of code and the app will fail.

“Banks might only issue a new version of their apps once a quarter because they can’t afford to take that risk.”

WhatsApp, he said, would be under much greater pressure to continually update and add new features.

WhatsApp v Snapchat

WhatsApp was sold to Facebook in 2014.

Earlier on Wednesday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had said that a new feature in the app, WhatsApp Status, had gained 175 million users since its launch in February.

The feature works in a similar way to Snapchat and Instagram’s Stories, allowing users to create a post containing words, images or video, that disappears after 24 hours.

Snapchat, which has been in existence since September 2011, is thought to have about 160 million users.

Instagram announced last month that about 200 million people used its Stories feature every day.

Internet

Surfing the Web Anonymously

When you surf the web it is possible to learn information about you even when you don’t want to advertise who you are. This is true even if your system contains no virus or malware software. Specifically information that is easily available online includes your IP address, your country (and often more location information based on IP address), what computer system you are on, what browser you use, your browser history, and other information.  It gets worse.  People can get your computer’s name and even find out your name if your machine supports programs like finger or identd. Also, cookies can track your habits as you move from machine to machine.

How do people get this basic information about you?

When you visit another web site, information about you can be retrieved.  Basically, information is intercepted and used by others to track your Internet activities.

How do you stop this from happening?

First of all, it is possible to serf the web anonymously and thereby stop leaving a trail for others to find. Note that this is not fool-proof, but it makes it much harder for people to know who you are. There are products called anonymous proxy servers that help protect you.  The anonymous proxy server replaces your Internet address for its own.  This has the effect of hiding your IP address and making it much harder for people to track you.

How do I get an anonymous proxy server?

There are many vendors who sell anonymous proxy servers. There are also free proxy servers available to you. Two such products are ShadowSurf and Guardster.  Guardster (http://www.guardster.com/) offers various services for anonymous and secure access to the web, some paid as well as a free service.  ShadowSurf  (http://www.shadowsurf.com/) ShadowSurf provides anonymous surfing at their site for free. Go to it and you will find a box to enter a URL that you want no one to track. There are many others, but here are two that are frequently used.

Another interesting product, given the recent news about the Google search engine filtering its findings for the Chinese government, is Anonymizer (http://www.anonymizer.com). This company, among others, recently (Feb 1st, 2006) pressed that it “is developing a new anti-censorship solution that will enable Chinese citizens to safely access the entire Internet filter-free” (http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/02012006.html).

Does an anonymous proxy server make you 100% safe?

No.  Still, you are much better off if you use such technology.

What other things should I be concerned about when trying to keep my private information private?

Three other items come to mind when trying to keep your information private. First, you can use an encrypted connection to hide your surfing. This article does not go into detail on this, but search the web and you will find a lot of information on this.  Secondly, delete cookies after each session.  Third, you can configure your browser to remove JavaScript, Java, and active content. This actually leads to limitations, so you need to think about the cost/benefit of this course of action.

Anything else?

Wishing you happy and safe surfing!

Internet

Securing Your Computer System

Today, more and more people are using their computers for everything from communication to online banking and investing to shopping.  As we do these things on a more regular basis, we open ourselves up to potential hackers, attackers and crackers.  While some may be looking to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others simply just want to use your computer as a platform from which to attack other unknowing targets.  Below are a few easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your computer more secure.

  1. Always make backups of important information and store in a safe place separate from your computer.
  2. Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently. If you have a Windows operating system, start by going to windowsupdate.microsoft.com and running the update wizard.  This program will help you find the latest patches for your Windows computer.  Also go to www.officeupdate.microsoft.com to locate possible patches for your Office programs.
  3. Install a firewall. Without a good firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access your computer from the Internet.  Consideration should be given to the benefits and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.
  4. Review your browser and email settings for optimum security. Why should you do this?  Active-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into your computers.  While cookies are relatively harmless in terms of security concerns, they do still track your movements on the Internet to build a profile of you.  At a minimum set your security setting for the “internet zone” to High, and your “trusted sites zone” to Medium Low.
  5. Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates so that you receive the most current versions.
  6. Do not open unknown email attachments. It is simply not enough that you may recognize the address from which it originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar address.
  7. Do not run programs from unknown origins. Also, do not send these types of programs to friends and coworkers because they contain funny or amusing stories or jokes.  They may contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a computer.
  8. Disable hidden filename extensions. By default, the Windows operating system is set to “hide file extensions for known file types”.  Disable this option so that file extensions display in Windows.  Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong.
  9. Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. A hacker can not attack your computer when you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off.
  10. Consider making a boot disk on a floppy disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. Obviously, you need to take this step before you experience a hostile breach of your system.

Fighting Spam

Fighting Spam

WordPress Spam Protection StrategiesHow prevalent is Spam? According to Scott McAdams, OMA Public Affairs and Communications Department (www.oma.org):

“Studies show unsolicited or “junk” e-mail, known as spam, accounts for roughly half of all e-mail messages received. Although once regarded as little more than a nuisance, the prevalence of spam has increased to the point where many users have begun to express a general lack of confidence in the effectiveness of e-mail transmissions, and increased concern over the spread of computer viruses via unsolicited messages.”

In 2003, President Bush signed the “Can Spam” bill, in December of 2003 which is the first national standards around bulk unsolicited commercial e-mail. The bill, approved by the Senate by a vote of 97 to 0, prohibits senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail from using false return addresses to disguise their identity (spoofing) and the use of dictionaries to generate such mailers. In addition, it prohibits the use of misleading subject lines and requires that emails include and opt-out mechanism. The legislation also prohibits senders from harvesting addresses off Web sites. Violations constitute a misdemeanor crime subject to up to one year in jail.

One major point that needs to be discussed about this: spam is now coming from other countries in ever-greater numbers. These emails are harder to fight, because they come from outside our country’s laws and regulations. Because the Internet opens borders and thinks globally, these laws are fine and good, but do not stop the problem.

So what do you do about this? Her are the top 5 Rules to do to protect from spam.

Number 1: Do what you can to avoid having your email address out on the net.

There are products called “spam spiders” that search the Internet for email addresses to send email to. If you are interested, do a search on “spam spider” and you will be amazed at what you get back. Interestingly, there is a site, WebPoison.org, which is an open source project geared to fight Internet “spambots” and “spam spiders”, by giving them bogus HTML web pages, which contain bogus email addresses

A couple suggestions for you: a) use form emails, which can hide addresses or also b) use addresses like sales@company.com instead of your full address to help battle the problem. c) There are also programs that encode your email, like jsGuard, which encodes your email address on web pages so that while spam spiders find it difficult or impossible to read your email address.

Number 2: Get spam blocking software. There are many programs out there for this. (go to www.cloudmark.com or www.mailwasher.net for example). You may also buy a professional version. Whatever you do, get the software. It will save you time. The software is not foolproof, but they really do help. You usually have to do some manual set up to block certain types of email.

Number 3: Use the multiple email address approach.

There are a lot of free email addresses to be had. If you must subscribe to newsletters, then have a “back-up” email address. It would be like giving your sell phone number to your best friends and the business number to everyone else.

Number 4: Attachments from people you don’t know are BAD, BAD, BAD.

A common problem with spam is that they have attachments and attachments can have viruses. Corporations often have filters that don’t let such things pass to you. Personal email is far more “open country” for spamers. General rule of thumb: if you do not know who is sending you something, DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT. Secondly, look for services that offer filtering. Firewall vendors offer this type of service as well.

Number 5: Email services now have “bulk-mail” baskets. If what you use currently does not support this, think about moving to a new vender. The concept is simple. If you know someone, they can send you emails. If you don’t know them, put them in the bulk email pile and then “choose” to allow them into your circle. Spam Blocking software has this concept as well, but having extra layers seems critical these days, so it is worth looking into.

3 Easy Steps For An Effective E-marketing Plan

In this day and age, internet marketing is emerging as one of the most viable and cost-effective marketing methodologies especially for small businesses. Here are three easy steps that you can follow for an effective e-marketing plan.

The process of using digital technology in order to sell goods or service is called e-marketing. With the growth of technology and the internet, it has become imperative for businesses to use e-marketing strategies to supplement their traditional marketing methods so as to generate more product sales and to reach a wider market.

E-businesses, though, would generally focus their attention on e-marketing alone. E-marketing uses the same basic concepts as that of traditional marketing. The purpose is to devise strategies in order to deliver your message across to your target market.

The difference with e-marketing lies in the options available to you when marketing and advertising your products, services or business. Of course, you could always use the traditional method, but it is wiser to take advantage of the marketing opportunities that the internet gives.

E-marketing produces tremendous results in terms of increased market share, high margins of profit and continued customer patronage. It is also ideal for small and medium-sized businesses for e-marketing is more affordable and less effort-intensive.

Nevertheless, in order to launch an effective e-marketing campaign, you would first have to create an e-marketing plan. The focus of an e-marketing plan is to ensure high response from prospective customers. Below is a summary of steps for creating an effective e-marketing plan.

Step 1: Determine your target market

Before anything else, you must identify your market. Rank and profile them accordingly and assign resources to each target group. Know their expectations, requirements, needs and wants so that you would have an idea how to go about with your sales pitch. This would also help you in determining your costs and ascertaining your expected benefits. It is also important that you study the market environment and your competitors’ marketing strategies, and give due notice to all possible opportunities.

Step 2: Set e-marketing plan objectives and e-marketing methods

You must immediately set your objectives for your marketing campaign. Are you aiming to increase product or business awareness? Are you aiming for higher website traffic? Would you like to rank high in search engine results? Your objectives may include establishing and raising your e-presence, disseminating business information and sales leads generation.

After determining your objectives, you must establish the e-marketing methods you would use to achieve your objectives. It is not advisable for you to use just one method. It is always wiser to use multiple e-marketing methods.

Step 3: Set a budget and determine your strategies

You should identify the strategies and techniques that you would use to launch your e-marketing campaign. Determine the tactics you would use for implementing your marketing methods. You should formulate strategies that are geared towards capturing your target market’s attention. You must position and differentiate your strategies and establish your priorities.

It is also very important that you carefully budget your expenses, regardless of what objective you have set and what methods you would like to employ. Make sure that your costs will not spiral out of your control. Use the cost/benefit analysis in order to determine an acceptable budget. The benefits should more than compensate for your marketing costs.

Differences between Shared and Dedicated Hosting

When it comes to making the all-important choice of what web hosting method to use the choices come down to shared hosting and dedicated hosting. There are so many arguments arguing for both shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Perhaps it is time to shed a little light on this web hosting dilemma.

First of all, let’s deal with the all-important question of server access. Needless to say, if you choose to use shared web hosting you will be sharing space with other businesses. Now your parents may have told you it is good to share but that is not always true in the world of web hosting. In the world of web hosting shared is synonymous with limited access.

A limited access approach to web hosting means that your access is limited through a control panel that is provided by the hosting provider. And if the web hosting provider is in charge of the control panel then they are in control of your access. A lack of control to your web hosting means a lack of control for every part of your web hosting needs.

On the other hand, a dedicated hosting server gives you complete and total access. Now doesn’t that sound a lot better? Full access in the form of dedicated hosting means that you get the final say in all web hosting decisions. Dedicated hosting also gives you access to the remote desktop manager, which allows you to have access to the machines desktop.

Next we look at web hosting from the perspective of exclusive use. Getting back to the concept of shared web hosting, the question needs to be asked, how much do you like to share? With shared hosting you are sharing a server with roughly 500-1000 other websites. Wow, that’s a lot of neighbors in your cyber neighborhood. With these many other websites clamoring for web hosting you may not always have access to all the server’s resources. Other websites may be taking up more web hosting resources than you are.

A dedicated hosting service however, gives you exclusive access to all the resources the dedicated hosting server has to offer. Your information alone is responsible for the performance of the server.

Finally lets deal with scalability in regards to the issue of web hosting. Most shared web hosting services do not allow you to install your own applications on the web hosting service. They have a set configuration and they do not go outside the box, thereby limiting your growth.

A dedicated hosting service gives you complete control. Your IT department can install any applications that are necessary for your web hosting needs. Again more control means a more effective web hosting service.

So all in all, it would seem that dedicated hosting is a far more viable option for most businesses web hosting needs. Dedicated hosting gives you more control and, in the world of web hosting, it’s all about control.
limiting your growth.

A dedicated hosting service gives you complete control. Your IT department can install any applications that are necessary for your web hosting needs. Again more control means a more effective web hosting service.

So all in all, it would seem that dedicated hosting is a far more viable option for most businesses web hosting needs. Dedicated hosting gives you more control and, in the world of web hosting, it’s all about control.

3 Criteria For Ranking Article Directory Sites

Article marketing is becoming more popular as webmasters realize the value in their content. Because of article marketing’s popularity, there are literally thousands of article directories all over the internet, with new ones being launched every day. Today, finding the right article directory can seem to be a daunting task.

So, the question becomes, how do you determine which article directories are the best?

Though there are several websites where you could find hundreds of article directories ranked according to popularity, it is best that you make your own evaluation based on your niche as well as your personal preference. Here are a few factors for you to consider when ranking article directory sites.

1) How old is the site?

With the launch of the Wayback Machine, it is now possible for anyone to check web pages that have been archived since 1996. Enter the names of the article directories you are considering and find out how old they are. In this case, the older the better. Google looks at site age for trustworthiness.

If you can’t find a site in the Wayback Machine, try doing a whois search. This will give you the date the domain was first registered.

2) Find Google and Yahoo backlinks

If you have already submitted articles to various article directories, enter the title of a few of your older articles and do a Yahoo as well as a Google search.

See where your article is ranked in the search. The articles that are in the top few spots would have been submitted to well-established directories or what Google considers to be the best content display.

The higher up an article directory is listed on Yahoo and Google, the more effective it is.

3) Look at PageRank

PageRank is the numeric value that Google assigns to every web page and is an indication of the importance of a website. The numbers range from 0- 10, with 10 being the most important. Submitting your articles to directories with higher PageRanks can increase your exposure manifold.

Resourceful Ways For Women To Obtain A Business Loan

Millions of businesses are owned and operated by women in the U.S. today, and many successful enterprises have been funded through business loans. Business loans for women are readily available from various agencies and groups. Community organizations, lending institutions, banks, and grants can help women get a loan for their business easily and efficiently. The process is the same as other loans, but finding the right loan for a woman specifically can help bring many benefits.

Women may need a business loan for a variety of reasons. This can include expanding a current business, creating a new venture with working capital, setting up a franchise, or creating a research and development team to incubate a business for a period of time. Whatever the reason may be, all businesses run by women can qualify for a sizable business loan through a variety of groups and resources.

Business loans for women are specially tailored so that women can support themselves, any children, or other lifestyle factors along with their business plan. It’s important to determine what all the costs of operating a business may be, including expected salary for the owner.

If the overhead costs for an on-site business is too high, business loans for women are ideal to help set up a home based business. Many banks and institutions can help fund the working capital required for inventory, assets, capital equipment, or future loans.

Business Loan Applications require an in-depth assessment, possibly an interview, and a review of the business plan. A lender will also take into account character, credit, experience in the field, and reliability. Creditworthiness is important, and a credit and background check will be run to find consistency and integrity. A pre-qualification is a great idea to get an estimate on how much can be borrowed at one time.

Besides the many banks and institutions that fund business loans for women there are 3 resourceful ways for women to obtain business loans: The Minority Business Development Agency, Business Incubation, and Business Competitions.

The Minority Business Development Agency works closely with women to provide financial support for women of various ethnics and cultural backgrounds. They work with Wells Fargo, and can create a customized loan program tailored for the woman’s business needs. Centers with community projects abound across major states. These Centers can help women review and write business plans, submit them to competitions, and help apply for business incubation.

Business Incubation is a business support that provides resources and services to start-up fledgling companies. Business Incubation is a great idea for startup businesses, as the professional services can help get the business off the ground. Incubators can help with the loan process, as they are interested in seeing the business off to a great start. They will make an offer on rent cost, supplies, materials, and office space and adjust the loan amount as the business grows. This is an excellent opportunity for beginning an enterprise.

Business Competitions can help get a new idea or innovative concept off the ground. These are usually privately funded, and can open up doors to obtaining a full-fledged business loan. Alternatively, a winning plan can be granted a cash lump sum to start, and then qualify for other contests or incentives. Business plan competitions are often sponsored by corporations or private investors. They generally do not require a loan repayment, but can bring some great connections and referrals for future growth.

It’s easy to get started on a business loan for women in business; from home based businesses, startup companies in incubation, or just bringing a skeleton business plan to the bank. Many lenders will tailor and create a customized loan amount for the woman entrepreneur.

1-Click Webhosters – Rapidshare

Before I introduce you to Rapidshare, here is a short summary of the history of 1-Click webhosters.

Back in 2006 there was a sudden flood of what are popularly know as 1-Click File Hosting websites. The term comes from the simplicity of the upload process offered by the respected sites. As opposed to using complicated FTP software users are able to easily locate files from their HDD or simply drag-and-drop them directly into their favorite browser. After that with a mere click of a button their files begin uploading without further interaction. After the files have been uploaded the user is provided with a download link which they can share with their friends.

Since then a lot of 1-Click webhosters have emerged but for one reason or another failed and eventually were put out of business.  One of the few successors in the business is Rapidshare©

Rapidshare© is a premium 1-Click webhosting solution based in Germany. Over time they have increased the hard disk and internet bandwidth capacities of their datacenters to eventually reached, as of today, 140 Gigabit/s internet connectivity and the whooping 3.5 Petabytes (1 petabyte = 1000 terabytes = 1 000 000 gigabytes) of storage space. The fact that Rapidshare© is number 11 according to the Alexa traffic monitoring and ranking website speaks for itself of how popular and widely-used Rapidshare©’s service is.

This concludes the article on Rapidshare – one of the biggest players in the highly competitive file sharing business.

Tis The Season!

‘Tis the season to begin gift shopping once again. But, rather than battle crowds, weather and fatigue, we have the greatest invention of our generation—online shopping!

I love online shopping. I love the convenience of sitting in my robe, with a snack and drink close by, the TV on or a CD playing, and being able to choose any hour of the day or night to shop. And best of all, not having to battle traffic, rude crowds, or SNOW!

I love pretty much all online shopping, but one of my favorites is gift baskets. Gift baskets have been around for a long time, but seem to have really come into their own with the popularity of online shopping. They are the ultimate in easy gifting! And they make it easy with secure checkouts, personalized gift cards, and time-sensitive to-the-door delivery.

Whatever the occasion; whoever the intended recipient, there’s a fun and appropriate gift basket to be found. And for those of us with the spirit of adventure, some sites even offer customizable baskets. Many of the gift basket sites are really one-stop gift shopping—offering flowers and plants, wines, food baskets, corporate gifts and special gifts for kids.

I spent about an hour recently on one of my favorites, and managed to clear my list of a birthday gift for my 10-year old niece; an anniversary gift for my sister and brother-in-law; flowers for my “adopted mom” who recently underwent knee-replacement surgery; and a congratulations basket for a dear friend who recently had twins!

Being the frugal person that I am, one year I decided I would make and mail my own gift baskets. It was very time consuming, very expensive, but fun for a one-time activity. I created a home entertainment basket with microwave popcorn, Milk Duds and Raisinets, a few well-chosen video tapes (before DVDs became the in-thing!) and a few other items. Being of Italian descent, my favorite home-spun basket is called “A Taste of Italy.” It includes pasta, sauce, good Romano cheese, bread sticks, olive oil, wine and some delicious traditional Italian cookies!

Probably the only thing more fun than shopping for or creating gift baskets is receiving one. Several years ago I received this huge basket of the most incredible English muffins. Thick, exquisite muffins in every possible flavor. Needless to say I shared my bounty – and the next year went to the site and ordered several baskets for folks on my list. Another basket that really impressed me was the one our realtor sent after we bought a house. It had all the fixings for an intimate housewarming party, including a lovely bottle of wine.

I have to admit, the “gift box” from a well-known cheese company left me a little flat. I couldn’t get over that the entire box, which I know was not inexpensive, consisted of about four of those 2 ounce bars of cheese, a small jar of mustard, small package of crackers and a few hard candies. Definitely less-than impressive!

I really do LOVE online shopping. And I really love the ease and convenience of gift baskets! So next month, you’re likely to find me in front of the fireplace with my laptop busily choosing and sending out lots of holiday greetings around the country without having to put on shoes!

If you haven’t already joined the ranks of online shoppers, do yourself a favor and try going the online shopping/gift basket route. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the holiday season a whole lot more!