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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Email Phishing: Keeping your personal information safe

So now that I work for a University Office of Information Technology, I have seen many examples of "phishing" attempts where someone emails a student and asks them to verify some type of information or to open an attachment of some sort.  The student then finds out a few hours later that he has lost access to his account because it is being used to send out fraudulent emails.

Here at the university, we never ask for a student's password or account information, and that is especially true over email.  However, hundreds of students are fooled every year by scammers dropping a line out and phishing for passwords.

Here are some tips to keep all your accounts safe.

What to look for:

  1. Misspellings-most companies have very good editors and will make sure they don't spell "loose" (as in lose your account) with too many o's. 
  2. Threats-companies want to keep your business, so if an email threatens to "close your account", then you can bet it's not an official email. 
  3. Email address-if a shady looking email is coming from your bank, and the return email address is, then it's an obvious scam.
  4. Amazing offers-it is as simple as this, if an offer sounds too good to be true, then it is a scam. 
  5. Attachments-these CAN contain viruses that can passively steal your information, avoid opening attachments from email addresses you don't recognize or that seem illegitimate.  Note that not all attachments are dangerous. 
  6. Links-links can lead you to a site that may look like a legitimate one, but it also might be a replica of what your bank site looks like.  Remember to verify that the website URL is the correct one.  If you don't feel an email is trustworthy, then don't follow links. 
Friendly reminders:
  1. Never give your password out online.
  2. If you think your account has been jeopardized, call the company and have them help.
  3. Use common sense; would you give a man on your doorstep your wallet simply because he was wearing a suit and said he was from your bank? (no) --here is a link to a terrible scam, many are far more convincing than this one.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting rid of the updates in Tweetdeck

Here is a quick tutorial on how to turn off those annoying tweet notifications that come with Tweetdeck.

  1. Open Tweetdeck
  2. Click on the little wrench icon in the top right corner 
  3. Then the following box will open, and you will need to click on the notifications tab.

The red and blue arrows signify the two visuals that pop up on your screen and you can turn off one or both.  I have both of mine turned off because they just get too distracting for me.

The yellow arrow highlights the volume bar for the notification sound.  I have it turned all the way down, which may be a good alternative to turning the notifications off altogether.

College is a Scam

I was on Youtube looking through some conspiracy theories just for fun, and I found a promoted video that said, The College Conspiracy: College is the biggest scam in U.S. history!

I want to point out that I think most conspiracy theories are lame and manufactured for someone's benefit, but I have thought for a while now that college is the next bubble waiting to burst.  The college inflation rate for tuition and expenses is increasing so fast it is easy to see that it is unsustainable.

The video (posted below) makes some good points, but I think they have their own agenda to promote as they use scare tactics and ask you to sign up for something (albeit free) at the end.  The video even gives some examples of why tuition is rising so much.  One of the most interesting points made in the video is that colleges have been using false and misleading statistics to make students believe that a job is waiting for them after graduation.

One example shown is that of the so called "pharmacist shortage".  Apparently 15 schools were about to open pharmacology schools and had to create demand for them, but they decided to do this by placing stories that there was a shortage of pharmacists in the U.S. 

The video also promotes the purchase of gold and silver because the U.S. dollar is losing its value.  These kind of mass campaigns for buy anything worry me a little.

Anyway, I have always thought that college was a system set up far more like a business than an education system where nothing is free.  Parking, books, tuition, room and board and so on are all offered to students at a price.  I believe in the idea that students will learn more on the job than in the classroom.  (I have a BAA)   I am all for trade schools and revamping the way the education system is now.

So take a look at the video, but be warned it is an hour long and does seem shady at times.

Let me know what you think of the video. Also, look around at the all the college advertisements, if they had the best education around they wouldn't need to advertise.

Qwitter: Checking your unfollowers on twitter.

Have you ever wondered if someone followed you on twitter only so you would follow them back and then left you as soon as you did?  I know I have thought that very thing happened to me a few times.  Now you can tell who is actually doing that.

You can use Qwitter. Qwitter is the FREE add-on that tells you exactly who left you in any given week.

Just go to this website and sign up using your twitter username and email.  Just make sure you confirm your email account, and you will be sent a weekly update of those unfollowers you always wondered about.

I personally like the idea of knowing who is real and who is not.  What about you?  Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Also, here is a relevant video ; ).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adding AdSense to Blogger

If you are here, then you are probably interested in adding advertising to your Blogger account.  If you have thought it through completely, and want to begin using ads, then feel free to skip down to the orange step by step process.  However, if you would like to view my cautionary advise please read on.

If you are going to use AdSense with your blog you should think about the following:

It can be seen as unprofessional.
This is kind of a "do as I say not as I do" piece of advice.  As this is the first post on this blog I probably shouldn't be using AdSense, but then again it is a relevant example to show you exactly what a blog looks like with AdSense installed.  I'll let you be the judge, but advertising can often make a blog feel less professional.  If you really care about what you are saying :), you may want to gain some credit before using AdSense.

It can be distracting and send readers away.
Ads can be distracting and actually send readers away from your site because clicking on a link will take them to the advertiser's site.  If you want to keep readers interested in what you are saying or what you are selling, then AdSense may not be right for you.

It is difficult to make money.
Don't expect to make any money.  I put ads on my blog mostly as an experiment.  I'm more curious to see if anyone at all clicks on ads rather than whether I'll make any money.  I assume I won't.  I advise you do the same and perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised!