Categorized under: News

Tired of being financially milked?

Are you bleeding money? It’s hard to keep track of all of the little things we pay for sometimes. Phone, Internet / Cable, Power, Water, Gas, Netflix, Spotify, Gaming subscriptions, Dating websites, etc. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much the simple things we enjoy bleed us for cash. Do we really need all of them?

Of course the bare necessities like water, power, gas, etc. Internet is starting to be considered one of those necessities too.  Beyond those bare essentials, the list of services we can blindly subscribe to seems to be beyond comprehension. What’s the simplest way to kill all of those subscriptions? Assuming most of those subscriptions auto-pay using your debit/credit card, simply call your bank / creditor, and ask for a new card (for whatever reason). They’ll kill the old card, and send you a brand new one, with a brand new number, expiration date, and security code. It takes 2-3 business days to get the new card. Once you do that, all of those subscriptions will start calling, emailing, and sending you notices any way they can to let you know that they can’t get their money.

Once that happens, you can make a tally of all of the money that was being spent on this or that and pick and choose what you really need.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Saving a little money down the road by converting a chunk ( a big one if you do it right) of your power consumption to another power source, like, say, solar, can drop your consumption by at LEAST 1/3. Wouldn’t a $66 monthly bill be much better than $100 every single month? The math varies from house to house, but the point is, 66 is less than 100, so whatever your bill is now, it will be less, indefinitely by switching some of your appliances and day to day use to solar sources of energy.

So how much does your power bill run?

graph of U.S. average summer electricity bills, as explained in the article text

Let’s say your average electric bill is $100 for a small family. 2 or 3 people. (That’s unlikely unless you’re very, very, very… efficient. Let’s just use that number for simplicity.

Now let’s assume that a LOT of your power is used between your entertainment system (TV, Sound, XBOX, and let’s just include the PC/computer for brevity). How much energy does that require?

Well we don’t need to do a breakdown and make things overly complicated, but what if you could replace some or most of that usage with another power source?

 

Goal Zero offers an amazing lineup of solar panels and power storage and distribution systems (fancy batteries). Mount a solar panel outside of your window, run the line through the window itself, and connect the power supplies for various devices to the battery. It serves a dual-purpose of a. supplying power and b. independent from main power so in the event of a disaster or storm, the power will still be there as it does not rely on the city/state electrical grid.

You can power that deep freezer, and most of the other power hogs with a system like these: http://www.goalzero.com/large-extreme.html?catid=13

 

Smaller systems out there, and possibly for less. See what you can find on Amazon  there are plenty of options.

Goal Zero says you can power a 32″ TV for 3-5 hours before a recharge with this solar system. http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/167//1:4/

Most power systems will pay for themselves very quickly (a year or so). They don’t require a lot of care, which is handy because this is supposed to be saving us money, but I feel as if it saves us some stress too. Think about it, how long will a system like this last? 5 years? 10? 20?!

In the end, it’s a worthy investment. Not just because it saves you money down the road, but because it also helps protect the environment and preserve the exhaustible energy sources.

If you do decide to go solar, please think of us while you’re flipping the bird to your power company.

Thanks to Evert Bopp for the article concept.

 

 

 

 

 

Categorized under: Design

3D Text in Web Form

View the Fiddle

Categorized under: News

Hacker Bane

 

Some of the things we consider to be “hacking” are nothing more than clever manipulations of our personal information. This is also known as “social engineering”.  Both terms are synonymous.
In order to combat these threats on our personalities and identity, we need to stay informed, and educate ourselves on the methods necessary to fend off an attack or prevent one in the first place.A good place to start is the Identity Theft Resource Centerhttp://www.idtheftcenter.org/

Identity

The IDTC has some reporting methods and training to help you protect yourselves from cyber threats. But it’s not enough.

The bottom line is, don’t let your guard down. Don’t tell people things they simply don’t need to know, even if they’re your friends. Your friends can be sources of information, tools to the attacker.

When you use websites and set your security information, don’t use the same security questions over and over. Try to switch it up between sites. And don’t necessarily make the answers accurate. Leaving out a letter, or adding a letter to the maiden name of your mother for example, is a good way to prevent a social engineer from hacking into your email or online banking.

Ultimately the less people know about you, the harder it is for hackers and anyone in general to take advantage of you. Remember the old phrase? “Loose lips sink ships”. The military has entire sections dedicated to preserving information that could threaten our country and military’s security. The military and DoD refers to this as OPSEC or “operational security”.

This is taken from stuff.co.nz:

SECURITY DOS AND DON’TS

?Do use strong passwords.

?Don’t use the same password for everything.

?Do make multiple back-ups of precious files.

?Don’t use the same email address for everything.

?Don’t use the one social service to log into everything.

?Don’t choose easy-to-answer security questions.

?Do enable two-factor authentication.

- Sydney Morning Herald

_____________________________________________________________________________

PC / Computer

Don’t be insulted. No one’s assuming you’re ignorant or stupid, but if people weren’t getting hacked, this information wouldn’t even be necessary.

We all have vulnerabilities. These tips will help raise the drawbridge of information we let down too easily.

Sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Software we look for to protect ourselves ends up being our greatest adversary. The first step in protecting yourself against malware and trojans is pre-screening everything you download. For starters, using download.com’s (owned by CNET) vast library helps. They scan everything before you download it.

Having some personal security helps too.

_____________________________________________________________________________

 Home Network

We typically don’t take too many steps to secure our personal information on our home network. Maybe because we don’t think a threat could come from home.

So here’s a few tips to help with that.

Most of the time, a fiber (ethernet) network is less of a security threat than wireless. That is, if the intruder is trying to hack us from home. But what if the threat is coming from somewhere else? If we’re not running an intranet (network not connected to the rest of the world wide web) then we’re running a network connected to the internet. If we’re connected to the internet then we are at risk at all times, from the inside, and the outside.

The Outside (internet)

Our greatest internal threats are no match for the infinite potential for threats on the internet. We will never keep them all out, which is why there’s a massive list of tools to find and remove threats that make it to our systems.

For starters, try Spybot S&D

Spybot(freeware)

Spybot looks for, well, spybots! And other stuff too.

Spybot is a free program that helps you find and prevent infections of spyware, malware, trojans, search engines, adware and more. The fact that it’s free is an epic factor in deciding whether or not to own this program.

Spybot can remove most infections when you “Run as Administrator” but in some cases, it needs you to reboot. Spybot will then prevent Windows from loading while it scans.

You can also immunize your system from hundreds of thousands of threats. Not to mention apply a host file patch that protects you from even connecting to websites that could threaten you.

CCleaner(freeware)

After installing or uninstalling any software, a tremendous amount of crap is left behind. Hense (Crap Cleaner). But, it does much more than that. CCleaner will scan for registry garbage, empty folders, and almost any temporary files your PC stores.  CCleaner will even wipe your blank space on your hard drive, a place where some of the most devious data can hide.

You might want some preventative software too. A few to consider:

I would NOT recommend:

Norton would be excellent, if it wasn’t such a resource hog. And McAfee misses more than it catches.

Some additional “layered” protection doesn’t hurt. Malwarebytes has some decent protection for free. There’s plenty of others too, and a few good ones for free. I would recommend looking up recent reviews for anything you’re considering, so you don’t end up downloading garbage or bloatware.

Protecting yourself should include masking some of your personal information. Hiding your IP address is important, if you can. Tor Browser can help with that.

Tor Browser allows you to mask your IP by use of a proxy server. There are servers all over the world that allow you to connect at no cost and hide your own IP and thus your true location. This also means it will be much harder to connect to you directly. The upside, better chance of staying secure. Downside, everything’s a little slower when going through a proxy, but in the end, it might be worth it.

The Inside(local network)

Don’t forget to secure your router. A wireless router typically has a control panel, that you can access with a local IP address. You can look up these IP addresses by going to http://portforward.com/ and selecting your router from the list. You aren’t trying to set up port fowarding, but it helps in case you can’t locate your router’s manual for the correct IP.

You can look up the default login info from the internet, which is why it’s important to secure it. If you don’t know the info, look it up yourself.

There are two different things you need to do. First, set a Wifi password and change your SSID. Some of the more advanced security allow you to use a passphrase instead of a bunch of random jargon to secure your system. Both are sufficiently secure. The second thing you need to do is change your router’s administrator password, and username if you get the chance. Write it down, stick it to the bottom of your router using some scotch tape.

___________________________________________

With all of that,  you still can be vulnerable. Stay vigilant.

Categorized under: Free Stuff, Reviews, Web

Simplify your To Do lists and work as a team

Most people approach To Do lists with a pen and paper. We’ve all tried Remember The Milk, but when RTM fails and Google Tasks has too many distractions, you might want to try Producteev.

Producteev is free. It does have some upgrade options, but for the average guy like me, it’s pretty handy as-is.

Start off by creating a Project or List name. Each list appears below and allows you to create items as tasks on a sidebar. You can set reminders, repeating tasks, and even invite someone to share the list with you. Your friends can only see the lists you invite them to so you can have some private items without feeling insecure.

Producteev.com

Enhanced by Zemanta
Categorized under: Free Stuff, Reviews, Software

Best Free PDF Tools

Of-course, everyone’s used Adobe Acrobat at one time or another. I use it from time to time when I simply want a PDF to load or print out an old manual. What if you want to do more with your e-books?

Let’s say you want to merge several PDF files together. Well, that’s pretty difficult to achieve with Adobe Acrobat, unless you’re willing to cough up some cash for Acrobat Pro. It seems unfair that you should have to pay so much for one simple function, doesn’t it?

Most people just one to do one or two things with their PDFs, but can’t afford to pay a whopping  $449.00 for the simple ability to rotate, merge, or copy and paste. I’ve recently encountered this problem myself. Now, I’m going to invest some time and try to track down the best free tools for editing, managing, and utilizing .pdf files.

Please comment if you have any insight. We’d love to hear your input!

Enhanced by Zemanta
Categorized under: Free Stuff, Reviews

Best Free Antivirus

I’m terribly sorry about the delay with this post. I promised to post this as of two weeks ago, so unfortunately I have been delayed until now.

 

Introduction

I know, it’s frustrating. You hate reading. And, by now, you’ve probably tried everything under the sun to protect your system from the nasty critters that are funking up everyone’s PC including yours. Well, hopefully this is an end-all solution for you. It was for me…

Crap

To start, it’s important that you clean out all of the cache your Windows – based PC builds up over time. Every time you visit a webpage you download (potentially) megabytes of data which adds up to gigabytes and so on. Some or most of that data is stored as cache to prevent you from having to re-download that stuff later on, thus speeding up your day-to-day business of web surfing. Unfortunately, an end-result can be slower performance, and the hogging of HDD (Hard Drive) space.


To help clean up your system from all of this “crap” that builds up, I recommend Crap Cleaner (CCleaner) which can be downloaded at Piriform.com.

 

 

Virus & Trojans

As for actually protecting your computer, you need more than one form of Antivirus. My two favorites are currently two of the most popular free antivirus products out there. AVG, and Panda.

 

What you need to know about AVG is that there is more than one company using the name “AVG”. The second is that there is more than one type of product and/or service that AVG provides. The basic antivirus is free. It comes with a resident (a program that runs in the background keeping viruses from loading into memory and essentially restricts their movements. Kind-of like an anklet on a convict. AVG Free Antivirus is very popular because it doesn’t take an incredible amount of memory to use passively. Even scanning runs at a minimal pace, unless you turn the toggle up raising its “priority” devoting more resources to its scan.

The second form of antivirus is called Panda Cloud Antivirus, and it also, is free. Just like AVG’s version, there is a free, as well as a paid antivirus client. You shouldn’t need the pro version unless you run a company-owned machine, or you just want massive overkill for your computer. Remember the more you pay for, the more is running, and the less resources you have in the end.

Panda Cloud Antivirus uses cloud-computing. I won’t get into the long description, but it can be summed up by saying: Cloud computing is using more than one machine, computer, or server’s resources to produce results. Basically meaning Panda isn’t just running on your PC, it’s running on some odd million others. When one person gets a virus, every other client gets updated with new criteria for a similar threat. How? It uses a database accessed via internet. Not-to-say that Panda is useless while offline, but it is seriously limited in its capabilities while not connected to the internet.

(Inhale)

Now, running AVG Free Antivirus side-by-side with Panda Cloud Antivirus isn’t a problem unless they’re both scanning at the same time. You may end up with an access violation, or a resource issue. It’s best to scan with one at a time at first, and see how long it takes. Then, schedule regular scans leaving a good buffer of time between each client.

Spyware

Now we’re down to the easy stuff. I want to introduce you to one of my best finds ever. Spybot Search & Destroy. What Spybot does is, well, it gets rid of spybots! From experience, this tool can find most adware, spyware, trojans, trojan downloaders, and a host of other nasty products that do nothing but get in your way from having a good day.

Spybot can scan your computer before windows is allowed to load, giving it the ability to get rid of a lot of bugs that other products like AVG and Panda can miss, since they’re not designed to do that anyway. Spybot also allows you to closely examine your startup list, giving you updated and descriptive information on what each entry is, and what it does. You’d be surprised. Read all of the entries’ info. You’ll find some surprises.

 

 

It also includes a basic set of tools to turn off BHOs (browser helper objects) for Internet Explorer, getting rid of some of those pesky ads and toolbars, and a somewhat annoying registry checker. I’d recommend sticking with CCleaner though. If you don’t believe me,  try it once. You have to delete each registry entry manually. (click x 457 = FUNK)

Summary

So, there you have it. The best combo of antivirus; at least that I’ve found, and is free. If you find something better, post a comment, if not, let me know how it works out for you.

Download

(Download.com or download.cnet.com scans files while they’re still on the server, preventing you from getting a virus in the first place)

CCleaner - http://download.cnet.com/ccleaner/

AVG Free Antivirus - http://download.cnet.com/AVG-Anti-Virus-Free-Edition-2011/3000-2239_4-10320142.html

Panda Cloud Free Antivirus - http://download.cnet.com/Panda-Cloud-Antivirus-Free-Edition/3000-2239_4-10914099.html

Spybot S&D - http://download.cnet.com/Spybot-Search-Destroy/3000-8022_4-10122137.html

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Categorized under: Hardware, Reviews, USB Devices

To buy or not to buy…

Dynex USB 2.0 7 port hub. [FAIL]

Fail StampWhen it comes to being a technology addict, we tend to go a bit overboard with our USB needs. Fortunately USB  hubs can come in pretty handy. Unfortunately, they’re pretty tricky, unreliable, sometimes, and abruptly fail. One such product, the Dynex USB 2.0 7 port hub did just that. I had 7 external hard drives plugged into the hub, 3 of which had their own power source. All at once, my hard drives unmounted.When I checked each port on the hub, only one was left running. I had effectively killed the entire piece.

Who’s to say that it would have been fine had I distributed drives amongst another hub or two, but ultimately, it failed the test.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to recover your things from your laptop’s hard drive that just happened to get a nasty virus or a bit of corruption, Apricorn might have just the thing for you.

Apricorn Upgrade Kit

 

Apricorn Upgrade Kit

For the WINThis handy dandy toy connects directly to your SATA drive and connects to your computer via USB 2.0. You can find this life saver at Best Buy or on Amazon. The actual kit comes with drive cloning software, but you may just want the adapter if you’re just wanting to get some files.

Priced $19.00 and up. Look for it on Amazon or Yahoo online stores.

 


 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Categorized under: News

Changes coming.

You have nothing to worry about. Bixit.net isn’t going anywhere.

There are some much needed improvements coming. For one, some better plugins to spice up the system here. For two, we’ll be getting a redesign done by none other than an1ken himself. If you’re not aware of an1ken and his talented crew, you might want to visit one of his greater ventures, www.creativeoverflow.net Check it out.

There are a great number of things happening in the world that many aren’t aware of, or are too complex for some people to understand. I’m going to be getting involved in some of these things. You’ll find out what I mean soon.

Categorized under: Android, iPhone, Mobile, Windows Phone

Best Smartphone Studies.

I figure, some free help might save you some time trying to find the best and most cost-effective phone to achieve your goals. Here’s a few helpful starting points.

http://www.consumersearch.com/cell-phones/best-smartphones

http://reviews.cnet.com/best-smartphones/

http://www.ruhanirabin.com/best-social-media-enabled-smartphones/

http://reviews.cnet.com/best-cell-phones/

Hope you find these useful!

Categorized under: Android, iPhone, Mobile, Windows Phone

Best Phone OS?

Before you empty your wallet on that iPhone or Droid, consider this. What do you really need from that phone? Well, based on some simple concepts handed to me from a phone salesman whose affiliation I’m not at liberty to divulge gave me some good advice:

  • Phones get outdated fast.
  • Functionality over User Friendliness.
  • Price over Productivity

Sometimes you simply don’t have the $$$ to waste on that big awesome gadget that everyone’s getting. That’s OK because there are phones with contract and even non-contract deals depending on the provider that may put you back on track.

For starters, read this article. This may help you decide what type or brand to buy…

http://lifehacker.com/#!5062403/battle-of-the-mobile-phone-operating-systems

 

RSSSubscribe to my feed now.

About Me

bixit.net