Friday, December 27, 2013

Notice of IES improvements coming in 2014.

We're gearing up for 2014...starting January 1, 2014, you'll see a few changes here at IES. It's going to be our best year yet! Here's a rundown of what we have planned:
  • New IES logo goes live January 1
    • We are known for our technology and web services. Shouldn't our logo reflect that? We think so!
  • New IES site (iesAdvisors.com) goes live January 1
    • We're simplifying things with a new sleek design that's easy to use and navigate. Plus we're adding live chat operators.
  • New client portal goes live by February 1
    • The features will include:
      • Revamp online bill pay
      • Save time and search or FAQ database to answers for frequently asked questions
      • Can't find an answer in our FAQs? Open and manage support tickets with ease.
We hope these changes make managing your account with us more efficient. After all, time is money!

Monday, December 23, 2013

T-Mobile pulls ahead in the prepaid wireless field with this trick...

Need your mobile Facebook fix but don't have any data coverage? T-Mobile has one option for you.

T-Mobile has tweaked its GoSmart Mobile prepaid wireless plan to offer free Facebook and Facebook Messenger access for all customers starting in January. That means subscribers can use Facebook without chewing up their data allowance or without even needing a data plan.

Rolled out early this year, GoSmart Mobile is aimed at consumers who want low-cost unlimited mobile coverage. The plans range from $25 a month for unlimited talk to $45 a month for unlimited talk and text and 5GB of 3G data.

Mobile consumers can hop onto the program by purchasing a phone directly from GoSmart or by spending $8 for a GoSmart Mobile SIM and installing it on their GSM unlocked phone. Subscribers will be able to access Facebook by logging in from a mobile browser or by running the Facebook app on their phone.

"Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, and we're delighted that GoSmart subscribers, many who don't have data access, will be able to use Facebook for free," Chris Daniels, vice president of partnerships at Facebook, said in a statement.

Source: CNET

Friday, December 20, 2013

This is truly crazy! A 20 year old has built a drivable 500,000 piece Lego car.

500,000 pieces of those well known plastic blocks - and four engines with 256 pistons that run on compressed air. It was designed and built by 20 year old Raul Oaida in twenty months after he and a partner raised tens of thousands of dollars from Aussie backers. It will only cruise at 12-17 mph hour, but as shown in the video, you probably wouldn't want to go any faster.

Source: YouTube

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Been on Facebook today? You may have seen some annoying video ads slowing down your news feed.

The feature offers companies a new way to promote movies and products on smartphones and computers, and is being tested with a small group of Facebook users.

"Rather than having to click or tap to play, videos will begin to play as they appear onscreen -- without sound," Facebook said in a statement. When users tap the videos, the sound will turn on and the video will play in full-screen mode.

Analysts estimate Facebook could gain as much as $8.4 billion per year in revenue once the program is fully rolled out.

But don't expect a flood of video to start clogging up your online experience just yet...The company says only a few Facebook users will see video ads this week. It's testing the feature with one company, Summit Entertainment, which is promoting its new movie Divergent, starring Kate Winslet.

Facebook has been working to improve the video experience for users since September. It says users view, like, share and comment on content more often if videos begin playing automatically.

For users who don't want to see the videos, Facebook suggests quickly scrolling past them.


Facebook also says the new ads will not eat into mobile data plans, explaining that videos will only download when devices are connected to WiFi.

Source: CNN

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This new light bulb will not only keep your room bright, but it will fill it with all your Bluetooth music.

The AwoX StriimLight B-10 sounds crazier than it actually is. It’s a light bulb, and it’s also a Bluetooth speaker. You screw it in, pair it to a device, and stream music to an 8W LED light bulb. The light socket powers both the speaker and the bulb, so the latter has to be screwed into a socket for the speaker to work.

It produces bright and warm-looking 3000K light that resembles the output of a fluorescent tube. It’ll screw into any E27 Edison mount.

As you’d expect, the speaker is not very good. A single 2-inch, 10W mono speaker in the middle of the LED lamp kicks out mediocre, bass-bereft audio. But those shortcomings are forgivable as the StriimLight leans heavily on gestalt principles.

Pairing it to a device is a simple process: You turn the bulb on, it beeps twice when it’s discoverable, and then you find the “StriimLIGHT” on your device’s pairing menu. Turning the lamp on and off restarts the discovery process if you have trouble finding the bulb in its Bluetooth menu; it’s basically a hard reboot of the bulb.

One little perk is that the StriimLight comes with its own remote control. The included plastic watch-battery-powered clicker is made of plastic, and lets you turn the light on and off, turn the speaker volume up and down, and mute the audio entirely.

At $100, the StriimLight may still be too expensive - at least until the audio quality is fixed. Available at awox.com/EN/striimlight.html.

Above: AwoX StriimLight B-10

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Have an expensive smartphone? Here's how to protect it in the cold weather.

Some smartphones list the optimum range of temperatures in their technical specs. For example, when it's turned off, the iPhone 5S can withstand temperatures between -4° and 113° Fahrenheit. When it's turned on, the range is much more narrow. Apple suggests 32° Fahrenheit as the lowest operating ambient temperature. Other phones are rated for much lower temperatures, and some can go as low as -4° Fahrenheit while in operation.

When lithium-ion batteries are exposed to cold temperatures, their performance suffers. When cold, a phone battery can drain faster than normal or it might say it has ample power remaining and then suddenly go dead. The problems are only temporary and the battery should behave normally when the device is brought back up to warmer temperatures.

In the event that your phone does shut down, do not restart it until you're inside and give time for your phone to warm up. Restarting your phone immediately could actually cause more harm to your phone and actually shorten your battery life.

It's not just the battery, smartphones are made up of other delicate electronic parts, like their LCD screens, that can malfunction in extreme temperatures.


Freezing temperatures can also make a phone's glass surfaces more sensitive to cracks and breaks, especially if there's already a flaw or nick in any of the glass. There have been reports of the glass on the back of the iPhone shattering in extreme cold temperatures. In Finland, where the average high temperature in the winter is 1°C, the government Consumer Agency has warned citizens that the phones might suffer performance issues in the cold weather.

To keep phones from getting too chilly, don't leave them alone in the elements, like in a parked car. Stashing them inside pockets closest to your person, where they can absorb some of your body heat, is best. If you do need to leave it behind, turn the phone off instead of just putting it to sleep.

Cases also help to keep phones warm. There are even cases especially built to regulate a phone's temperature in extreme situations.

If you're depending on the phone to make outgoing calls in case of an emergency, say while driving on icy roads, keep a back-up power source with you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Merry Christmas! Our staff's top 5 tech toy picks are finally here!

The biggest trends this year are robotics, toys that come to life with apps, and toys that get you to do something - including go play outside. So don't worry, our handy list will help you pick out a perfect present! The best part? We've actually played with every single one of the toys on our list. While some look and sound good in commercials and online, there are a few that will drive you, dear parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles - absolutely nuts. Oh, and don't forget the batteries!

Razor electric scooter, $150
Topping out at around 12 miles per hour, Razor's electric scooters are a great choice for tweens and teens. They're stylish, reasonably affordable, and extremely durable. This encourages kids to get up off the couch and go outside, even if it's just for a spin around the block.

RoboMe, $100
This futuristic robot can run around on it's own, or use an iPhone as its face and brain, allowing it to perform a ton of cool tricks and tasks. It can act as a remote video camera, remote-control explorer, and kids can even reprogram it to say whatever they want. Fun and educational at the same time.

Lego Mindstorms EV3, $350
This isn't the same Lego set you grew up with. It's a hands-down standout for harnessing creative and thought-provoking programming potential. With infrared sensors and motion detectors, kids can quickly create complex models that blast, grab, strike, slither, roll, and shoot, in as little as 20 minutes, right out of the box.

Of course, almost every kid will want an iPad and iPhone. Our advice is to go for the iPhone 5C and iPad mini or Samsung Galaxy tablet (a cheaper alternative). Set up basic parental controls, and make them responsible should their new shiny gadget get lost, stolen or broken. We don't recommend these devices for kids, but rather for teens.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Computer Science Education Week and schools across the country have kicked off the Hour of Code campaign.

In the state of Massachusetts:

  • There are 20,499 open computing jobs in the sate of Massachusetts alone.
    • That number is growing at 3.2x the state average!
  • There are 2,134 computer science graduates.
  • Only 120 schools teach computer science.
The Hour of Code is an opportunity for every student to try computer science for one hour. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15), we're making history and recruiting 10 million to join in and do the Hour of Code.

video
Source: HourOfCode.org


Friday, December 6, 2013

Microsoft to kill off Windows 7 preloaded software next year.

The long, slow march toward end-of-life of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system is under way.

As of October 30, 2013, Microsoft ceased selling boxed copies of Windows 7 at retail. This October 30 cut-off date doesn't mean that OEMs or retailers are no longer selling PCs with Windows 7 preloaded, although it is becoming much more difficult to find. Although most major retailers have made the switch to Windows 8 or 8.1, OEMs can continue to sell PCs preloaded with Windows 7 until October 30, 2014.

Mainstream support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed isn't ending until January 13, 2015. Microsoft will continue to provide security fixes for Windows 7 for free until the end of extended support, which is January 14, 2020 - unless Microsoft ends up extending that support date, as it did with Windows XP.

Everyone better buckle down. It's going to be a bumpy ride with Windows 8 and 8.1, especially with no new operating system plans in sight.

Source: CNET

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This amazing new piece of technology provides secure & easy access to all your credit and ATM cards.

Coin is a connected device that can hold and behave like the cards you already carry. It works with your debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards. Instead of carrying several cards you carry one Coin.

You can use a Coin everywhere cards are accepted including dip-style card readers and ATMs. Use a Coin just like you use your cards now at gas stations, restaurants, the mall, the gym, or other places you frequent.

The convenience and security seems to be worth it for only $100 (or $50 on a preorder at OnlyCoin.com).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can't remember 4 digits to unlock your iPhone? No problem - use your face!

Awarded to Apple on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark, a patent called "Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition" envisions a method to access your iPhone and other devices based on facial detection and recognition. As such, your face would act as a password, allowing only you to answer a phone call and perform other tasks.

The technology would start by scanning your face in order to record all of its unique features, such as texture, color, size, and shape. You could run the same process for any other person whom you want to use your iPhone.

In response to an incoming call, your phone would scan your face to make sure it matches that of an authorized user. If so, the call goes through, and your iPhone displays the usual incoming call screen. If not, the device remains in lock mode with only the ringtone chiming away.

The same security could apply for incoming e-mails. Looking at the iPhone would alert you to and display an e-mail. An authorized face would prevent the e-mail alert and hide or block the actual message.

The technology seems most at home on a mobile phone. But Apple's patent points to its use on other devices, including TVs, PDAs, and personal computers. As one example, your PC's screensaver could react to your face rather than to a preset period of inactivity.

An approved patent doesn't necessarily mean this technology will become a reality. But Apple did take a first step in password evolution with the introduction of its Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S. Facial recognition is already used by other products, such as Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation. So using your face to drive your iPhone seems like a logical step at some point down the road.

Source: CNET

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Small Business Saturday is back...with a $10 to spend at any small business!

Attention American Express Card members: Register your card today and get a $10 statement credit when you make a purchase of $10 or more at a qualifying small business location on November 30. Registration is limited, so the sooner the better. Enroll at: https://enroll.amexnetwork.com/US/en/SBS2013.

On a related note, IES is a small business! Shop Small with us on Small Business Saturday - prepay your computer services, web design services, or purchase a great new tech toy! Browse our inventory at iesAdvisors.com/shop, but remember to phone in your order because online payments do not apply to the American Express promotion.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jack Vale perfectly demonstrates how nothing is really private with his social media experiment...

Jack Vale is a California comedian that has been on TV shows such as "Lopez Tonight" (TBS), "Most Outrageous Moments" (NBC), "The View" (ABC), "Pranked" (MTV), "World's Dumbest" (TruTV), and many more. In his most recent YouTube video, he shows how easy it is to find out someone's most personal details using social media.

Source: YouTube

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Microsoft scam is back...and we have a first hand experience to tell you about!

"Hello. This is Microsoft tech support and we have detected a serious virus in your computer and we need you to log on right away so we can help you."
 
That's what the male voice said on the phone. He was insistent, almost in a panic, to help Grammie defend herself against a destructive virus that was attacking her computer.

Something about the call made her "suspect the caller's intentions". First, they didn't get her name right. Second, they sounded foreign.

When Grammie asked to speak to a manager, he dodged her request - he just kept talking, fast. And when she asked for a phone number so she could call to verify that it was Microsoft, he gave her an Atlantic City phone number, 609-318-6024. He also was insistent that she act right now because "we are trying to help you."

In reality, they were trying to scam her.

Grammie asked the "technician" how he knew that her computer had been compromised. He said "all computers have a number in them, that they're able to trace it". The fake technician persuaded Grammie to allow him to gain access to her computer using GoToMyPC. He continued to talk fast, using made up or false technical terms. The slick scammer continued on to tell Grammie that her computer "had no ssl," something that is actually for websites and has nothing to do with individual computers, while pulling up a fake website that says "Your computer is infected. No SSL available".

After pulling up a Western Union transfer, Grammie became even more weary of the caller's intentions. She said that she'd have to talk to her to-be son-in-law, a computer tech (me) and "that was the end of the conversation".

The best way to bust a scam is to shine a light on it, which is what I'm doing here. Tech-support scams have several things in common: The people on the phone talk fast and urgently to panic the victim into making a fast, unwise decision.

Scammers often say that "they have detected malware or a virus" and they even provide a product number for the victim's computer as proof they are for real. The product number of a computer is easy to find. The serial number, however, is not. If they do not have this information, I guarantee they are not calling from Microsoft.

In reality, "Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes. Additionally, Microsoft will never contact a consumer and ask for their credit-card number". (Source: Microsoft). Banks may call you to check charges, but once you give out your information, scammers are free to charge whatever they wish until the bank deactivates the card. It is very important to NEVER give out your credit card numbers. If phone scammers gain your trust, they will rip you off.

Currently, scammers are instructing the victim to type in a code, which allows them to take over the home computer. They may demand that you pay them for the nonexistent "fix." If you pay with your credit-card number, they may run up thousands of dollars in charges billed to you.

Even more notorious: They can take remote control of your computer, locking you out and all your records, documents and pictures in. They then demand that you pay a ransom to return control of the computer to you. If you pay the ransom, they release the computer back to you. Or maybe they don't and demand more money.

Unless you are certain of who you are talking to, don't be stampeded into revealing anything. If you have fallen victim to this scam, please contact us so we can try to clean up the mess left behind. And if you get a similar call, hang up and report the fraud to the FTC.

IES, Inc.
781-816-9437
iesAdvisors.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bitcoin in the news again - Senate takes a close look.

It's clear Bitcoins are growing in popularity. The price of the currency soared to a new all-time high of $675 Monday, up from only $12 a year ago. Without meddling banks in between transactions, Bitcoins trade seamlessly and offer nearly as much privacy as cash.

That's why the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs is hearing from various sides Monday. According to prepared statements from the Justice Department, an official at the DOJ said it needs more help catching criminals who use the secretive currency. Meanwhile, Bitcoin users want the government to back off and let the system blossom.

Law enforcement doesn't like the anonymity - there are legitimate uses for Bitcoins. But it's also being used to anonymously buy drugs, hire assassins, trade child porn and dodge taxes.

The nation's acting assistant attorney general, Mythili Raman, described the more notorious ways Bitcoins are being used. She mentioned the recent FBI shutdown of Silk Road, an online black market. Illicit drugs and services were sold there using the untraceable currency. The agency arrested its alleged founder and seized 170,000 BTC, valued at $101 million as of Monday afternoon.

The way Bitcoins are transacted, using coded wallets and special keys that don't need real names, enables substantial privacy. That makes it more difficult to follow the money and catch criminals.

Along those lines, there are concerns that those making money from sex trafficking and pornography involving children have started to adopt Bitcoin.

The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children noted how anonymity offered by Bitcoin has made it the currency of choice for predators. The nonprofit group's president, Ernie Allen, says he's not against the digital economy. But he wants it less private.

"If the perception of anonymity diminishes, we believe the criminal use will diminish with it," he said in prepared remarks.

Edward Lowery III, who leads the Secret Service's criminal investigative division, added that the technologically complex Bitcoin system makes it hard for everyday agents to stay on targets' tails. They need more tech-savvy investigators than the agency can currently afford.

Also chiming in was the potential regulator that could one-day ruin the unregulated Bitcoin party: The Treasury Department.

Treasury already issued guidance in March saying that groups exchanging Bitcoins must register with the government and keep records. Everyday Bitcoin users remain unregulated. Jennifer Shasky Calvery is head of the department's financial crimes unit and warned about leaving the Bitcoin community untouched.

"One of our biggest challenges is striking the right balance between the costs and benefits of regulation," she said.

The Bitcoin community doesn't want too much regulation. Fans of Bitcoin say the currency is going mainstream, and it's not just for internet weirdos. That's why they want the government to give it a chance to grow and thrive without tacking on burdensome rules.

The Bitcoin Foundation, a group that seeks to strengthen the digital system, is trying to convince politicians the currency works as is.

The group also notes that meetings with financial regulators have gone well so far, but the Treasury Department should have met with Bitcoin supporters before taking a stance earlier this year.

"The American people have been reminded this year of reasons to be concerned for their privacy," says the group's attorney, Patrick Murck, referencing the recent disclosures about unwarranted government spying on innocent citizens.

Source: CNN Money

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Facebook temporarily disables profiles as it grapples with 150 million hacked Adobe passwords.

Facebook is asking millions of people to change their passwords if they had an account with Adobe, the content creation and cloud marketing company. Adobe was hacked recently and up to 150 million passwords were exposed.

Facebook is taking those exposed passwords and searching its system to find users who may have used the same password for Facebook. Those people will be asked to change their passwords.

The password crisis was triggered because Adobe apparently used only one encryption key for all its stored customer passwords, according to Krebs On Security:

What’s more, experts say Adobe appears to have used a single encryption key to scramble all of the leaked user credentials, meaning that anyone who computes, guesses or acquires the decryption key immediately gets access to all the passwords in the database.

The Adobe password hack is causing a huge headache all across the web. At first, it seemed that just a few million passwords had been stolen. But then that estimate increased to 38 million. And Krebs said the total universe of compromised passwords could be as high as 150 million.

So Amazon, Diapers.com and Microsoft are struggling with the same issue: The Adobe password cache is so massive that there are likely multiple millions of users with accounts at other companies who used identical passwords. Because the hackers can match passwords to IDs (email for instance), anyone who used the same password at Adobe for any other online company is now potentially screwed.


(click to enlarge)

Friday, November 8, 2013

What stupid relationship app will someone come up with next? Apparently this one: hug, kiss, and keep tabs on your significant other.

Avocado is a new app that has recently hit the iTunes store, Google Play store, and the web. It offers private chat setting that allows users send pictures, texts and videos in one secure place. It also allows users to share lists and calendars in one place and gives them the ability to pinpoint their location through the GPS feature on their phone. (Because there's nothing better than an overly obsessive girlfriend tracking your every move).

What makes Avocado different from other couples apps, aside from its artistic layout, are a few features that focus on promoting that "surreptitious co-presence" feeling, namely the ability to "hug" and "kiss" your significant other from afar. The app asks you to hold the phone to your lips or your heart, and vibrates in reaction, letting the other person know you've made contact. (Because nothing looks stranger than someone kissing their phone in public).

The app also allows users to "sketch" and put stickers on pictures and personalize emoticons with pictures of yourself in different moods.

And for those who don't get the reference in the app's name, the avocado fruit only grows in pairs.

Although I am extremely nauseated after learning all the invasive features of this app, I must admit it is a great idea! There certainly is a market for it. Congratulations to the Avocado app creators - you just made a bunch of people insecure in their relationships feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Avocado is available free at Avocado.io, the iTunes store, and Google Play.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Silk Road, a drug & illegal services website, has somehow been reborn a month after being seized by the Feds.

The Feds may have taken down Silk Road, the online black market that's been coined the "Amazon of illegal drugs," but a little over a month later, it's re-emerged.

Not long after the bust, select users on the site received an email from a former active Silk Road user asking the community to help rebuild. The authenticity of the new forums was endorsed by former Silk Road user "Libertas."

Some users who wanted to be a part of the rebuilding gained access to "the Vendor Roundtable," a forum that outlined the details behind the launch of the new Silk Road. The administrator also called on users to volunteer for a "communication specialist" position in charge of organizing operations. "You will be assigned work to perform based on what needs to be done," read an email reviewed by CNNMoney.

Silk Road 2.0 emerged Wednesday alongside a number of other sites offering similar services.
The new Silk Road, like the original, offers everything from prescription medication to heroin.
"Silk Road is back up," a Twitter user who appears to be the owner of the new site tweeted. "Deja vu anyone? #weriseagain." The new Silk Road owner also took on the pseudonym of former leader Ross Ulbricht, Dread Pirate Roberts.

According to a former Silk Road user, the site was rebuilt by most of the major players who were heavily involved in day-to-day operations of the former site.

"Silk Road was something that had popularity that made it easy for people to continue down that path. As long as you can convince the bulk of the biggest buyers and sellers to move over to the new platform, it doesn't matter what it's called."

Before the original Silk Road was seized by the Feds, it had become one of the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplaces on the Internet, according to FBI Special Agent Christopher Tarbell.

But it certainly wasn't the only one. Other sites, including BlackMarket Reloaded and the Sheep Marketplace, have also been looking to attract sellers and buyers.

"Later on, newer versions that have improved in some way will pop up and regain the trust," another former Silk Road user told CNNMoney.

A priority for the reborn Silk Road is information security. The people rebuilding it are baking security measures into the site's code.

Source: CNN Money

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

American Airlines now allows personal electronics use throughout entire flight.

American Airlines now allows passengers on its airplanes to use portable electronic devices throughout their entire flight. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the use of electronics on the company's fleet "gate to gate," meaning fliers can leave laptops, phones, and tablets powered on when they enter the plane, and keep them on through landing and disembarkation.

American Airlines is the third major airline to allow electronics gate to gate after Delta and Jet Blue made the switch earlier this month. Before airlines can allow passengers to use electronics during all phases of a flight, they have to prove to the FAA that their planes can operate safely with devices turned on. The FAA expects passengers on all US airlines to be able to use devices gate to gate by the end of this year.
 
The new American Airlines policy came into effect on Monday and is fleet wide, barring a few American Eagle flights. Although passengers on the company's flights will be able to leave cellphones on, they'll still have to switch them to airplane mode: phone calls from the sky remain prohibited.
 
Source: The Verge

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Woman receives ticket for driving in glasses....Google Glass glasses that is.

In what might be a first, a woman in California received a traffic ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving.

Cecilia Abadie was pulled over for speeding on Tuesday in San Diego and given an additional citation for driving while wearing her Google Glass. The officer considered the head-mounted display a monitor that was visible to the driver. Shocked, Abadie posted a copy of the ticket on Google+.
 
Traffic laws vary state by state, but many now have broad distracted-driving laws or bans on certain monitors that could easily apply to Google Glass.
 
The California law cited in Abadie's case is meant to prevent people from watching television while driving. V C 27602 prohibits televisions and similar monitors from being turned on and facing the driver. There are exceptions for GPS and mapping tools and screens that display camera feeds to help the driver navigate. If a device has a safety feature that limits its display to approved uses while driving, it can be allowed.
 
"I think the law is broad enough to say it violates the law," said San Diego attorney Mitchell Mehdy, also known as "Mr. Ticket." Mehdy has been working in traffic law for 25 years and said this is the first case he's heard of involving Google Glass.
 
Abadie says her Google Glass was not turned on when she was pulled over, and that the officer said the screen was blocking her view. The Google Glass display is located slightly above the right eye, not directly in front of the eye.
 
Google does warn users about running afoul of traffic laws in its Google Glass FAQ: "Most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Read up and follow the law!"
However, in another section on navigation, it says Glass can give turn-by-turn directions, "whether you're on a bike, in a car, taking the subway, or going by foot."
 
Glass fans defended the technology in comments on Abadie's post, saying that a voice-activated screen close to the eye could actually be safer than trying to check a smartphone or other monitor while driving.
 
"Glass is far safer than any other means of information delivery. It is out of your view and not distracting," said Aaron Kasten, who compared it to checking speed and other information on a car's dashboard, which requires taking your eyes off of the road.
 
The turn-by-turn directions on Glass can be turned on with a voice command. The display will show a map view, but for extra safety the screen can be turned off while driving so there's only voice navigation.
 
A Google Glass spokesperson didn't address the ticket directly but emphasized responsible Google Glass usage, saying, "As we make clear in our help center, Explorers should always use Glass responsibly and put their safety and the safety of others first. More broadly, Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it."
 
State laws are always adapting to new technology, and Google Glass is still a somewhat rare sighting. The device is only available as part of a beta program and is not yet sold commercially. According to Mehdy, new technology is a tempting target for law enforcement looking for new ways to bring in money.
 
Law enforcement is increasingly enforcing distracted driving laws. During the month of April, there were more that 57,000 distracted driving tickets issued in California as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
 
Source: CNN

Monday, November 4, 2013

How do you handle bad online reviews?

It's not uncommon to receive a few negative reviews, but what's the best way to handle it?
Here's what you don't want to do: Call online reviewers punks, trash or other expletives on your company Facebook page like the owners of Amy's Baking Company did last spring. Their outrageous behavior became a story in and of itself and escalated the negative feedback far beyond where it started.

While most business owners probably aren't tempted to call commenters "fat, disgusting losers" and threaten legal action, it's easy to make a misstep. Here are some tips on how to respond to negative reviews.

1. Don't post fake positive reviews
"Fake reviews happen everywhere," says Giorgos Zervas, a Boston University marketing professor who analyzed reviews of thousands of Boston restaurants. About 80% of the restaurants had at least one "filtered" review, which means Yelp (YELP) software found it suspicious. "[It] might be real or it might be fake," he says. "But Yelp finds it suspicious enough to avoid publishing it."
Related: Best social network for your business

Yelp will publicly shame businesses it thinks buy reviews, like it did to Discount Mattress and Furniture in La Mesa, Calif. The profile has a "consumer alert," reading: "We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business."

Faking reviews can also get you in trouble with the law. Last month, officials in Taiwan investigated Samsung for paying people to criticize rival HTC online. And in September, New York regulators cracked down on the same practice, forcing 19 companies to pay $350,000 in penalties.

2. Address negative feedback personally, but carefully
Lockbusters, a New York City locksmith, is approached often by companies offering to craft reviews, according to owner Jay Sofer.

He turns them down, preferring to connect with negative reviewers personally. In a phone call or email, he asks questions, lets them vent and if the company didn't meet expectations, offers a discount or even a refund.

He also prioritizes customer service. "I treat every person like a potential reviewer," he says. "I know they can praise you or trash you."

His approach works: Sofer says much of his business is driven by his 5-star rating on Yelp. "If you want to take your online reputation seriously, put customer satisfaction first," he says.

3. Move conversations offline
When it comes to Facebook and Twitter vents, it's often more productive to have conversations in private.

Hayneedle.com, an Omaha, Neb.-based online furniture store, handles Facebook complaints with direct messages, signing the name of the person who will be handling it.

"It gives us the flexibility to find the best solution without multiple fans jumping into the conversation or making the customer feel like we've forgotten about them," says Donna Faust, Hayneedle's director of brand management. Once the problem is solved, the company asks the customer to write a follow-up post.

4. Be proactive
Houston-based Blinds.com takes a more proactive approach. The company sends customers an email asking how they did, hoping to catch complaints before a person vents publicly. The positive feedback has landed in marketing campaigns, and the gripes have helped identify problems at the company, says Daniel Cotlar, the chief marketing officer.

"We've uncovered a lot of stuff that is broken," says Cotlar, such as software glitches, vendor problems, misleading product images or customer service holes. "For every customer who will tell you something is wrong, there are 10 people who don't bother. So you're fortunate to get that information."

Source: CNN Money

Friday, November 1, 2013

7 signs that your child is an iPad addict...

Withdrawal symptoms and cravings may seem like the province of hard-drug addiction, but increasingly, psychologists are noticing these same signs of addiction in people who use devices ranging from smartphones to tablets.

And as more and more households get iPads, more children may start to get hooked.  In April, reporters pounced on a story about a 4-year-old who was seeing a therapist to kick her iPad obsession.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-V), sometimes called the psychiatrist's "bible," has not officially added Internet gaming to its roster of disorders, but it's under consideration. And it's likely that iPad, smartphone or other device addiction will be viewed similarly as more data show their harmful effects, Amitay said.

From physical withdrawal symptoms to losing touch with the outside world, here are seven signs your child may be hooked on the iPad:

1. Withdrawal

Withdrawal from heroin or alcohol causes headaches and the shakes, but device addiction has physical withdrawal symptoms as well. In a 2011 study, researchers asked 1,000 college students around the world to go 24 hours without using their smartphones, other mobile devices or the Internet. Many reported symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and one anonymous student even said he or she was "itching like a crackhead" from the longing to use a phone.

If your child is irritable, anxious or sad after having the iPad is taken away, he or she may have an unhealthy attachment to the device.

2. Tolerance

Just as heroin addicts need bigger and bigger hits to get the same effect, iPad users can also develop a tolerance.

3. Loss of interest

If children who once loved playing soccer, picking on their kid brother, or climbing trees have lost interest in all those activities in favor of hours of "Air Hockey Gold," it may signal a problem. (An occasional preference for the iPad over other activities isn't a problem; the screen craving has to be crowding out everything else to a significant degree).

4. Lack of control

Addicts typically have an inability to control their usage. And though 4-year-olds are not known for their self-control, children may have a problem if parents have a really hard time taking the tablet away from their child without a huge meltdown. On the other hand, parents of young children should be able to set limits.

5. Deception

Have you caught Henry hiding underneath the kitchen table hunched over a lit-up screen, playing his favorite game? Yes, another red flag of addiction is children lying about iPad use, sneaking the iPad into their bedroom or other hideout, or otherwise deceiving family members to get more screen time.

6. Trouble dealing

Addicts often use a substance or an activity as a way of escaping from a negative mood or feeling.

Kids who are using the iPad to avoid dealing with sad, stressful, or negative emotions could have a problem. For instance, if your kid always grabs the iPad after a fight with a sibling or a parent, he may be coping with his negative emotions using the iPad.

7. Losing opportunities

Losing significant relationships, failing in school, or performing poorly at work are all signs of addiction. Though young children have probably not lost their shot at the corner office as a result of too much Candy Crush Saga, they may be losing friends or their grades may be slipping.

Normal or not?

For all these symptoms, it's important to note that mentally healthy children, especially young children, become slightly obsessive about any new activity.

In young children especially, most symptoms of iPad addiction can be short-circuited early on if parents set limits, create consequences for excessive use and provide daily structure for their children. The fact that parents have trouble taking an iPad away from a 3-year-old doesn't necessarily mean they have a toddler addict; it means the parent have trouble saying no.

*We at IES, Inc. are not psychiatrists or doctors. Under no circumstance should this article be considered as medical advice.

Source: Yahoo News

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The latest viral video is not only informative, but a great marketing tool for Virgin America.

Welcome to the 21st century, where viral videos prove to be the most effective marketing tool available to businesses.

In this latest viral video (below) by Virgin Airlines, stewardesses and passengers inform flyers about the rules and regulations of the sky, along with safety tips for emergencies. Personally, I like this method of approach much more than being bored by seeing my stewardess standing in front of me explaining where the exits are and how to buckle my seatbelt.

It's no surprise that Virgin created this fun, hip video...after all, that what Virgin America is known for. In this video, actors from hit movies such as Step Up 2 and Step Up 3, and top dancers from shows like So You Think You Can Dance.

In just 2 days, the video has attracted more than 1.7 million views. And that doesn't count the people that see this while flying on Virgin America!

Source: YouTube

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Security warning for Joomla & WordPress users.

SECURITY WARNING: AUTOMATED HACK ACTIVITY FOR JOOMLA & WORDPRESS

Over the last 30 - 60 days we have started to see an alarming increase in exploits targeting Joomla and WordPress php scripts.

Joomla version 1.x is in no longer maintained by Joomla, and now has several known exploits that have been automated, WordPress has similar problems.

We urge you to upgrade any Joomla / WordPress installations you may have on your hosting account as soon as possible. If you have installed a Joomla / WordPress and are not using it, we would recommend removing the installation.

Upgrading Joomla version 1.x to 2.x is not 'straight forward' Joomla have created a guide on how to do this here: http://docs.joomla.org/J2.5:Migrating_from_Joomla_1.5_to_Joomla_2.5

If you are using an old version of WordPress or Joomla and do not upgrade them, then your websites are at risk.

If you do not have Joomla or WordPress in use on your web hosting you can safety ignore this message.

IES, Inc.
781-81-MY-IES
(781-816-9437)
iesAdvisors.com

Monday, October 28, 2013

Doctors to parents: Limit kids' tweeting, texting & keep smartphones / laptops out of bedrooms.

The recommendations are bound to prompt eye-rolling and LOLs from many teens but an influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences.

It's been linked with violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other problems. It's not a major cause of these troubles, but "many parents are clueless" about the profound impact media exposure can have on their children, said Dr. Victor Strasburger, lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics policy

"This is the 21st century and they need to get with it," said Strasburger, a University of New Mexico adolescent medicine specialist.

The policy is aimed at all kids, including those who use smartphones, computers and other Internet-connected devices. It expands the academy's longstanding recommendations on banning televisions from children's and teens' bedrooms and limiting entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily.

Under the new policy, those two hours include using the Internet for entertainment, including Facebook, Twitter, TV and movies; online homework is an exception.

The policy statement cites a 2010 report that found U.S. children aged 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours daily using some kind of entertainment media. Many kids now watch TV online and many send text messages from their bedrooms after "lights out," including sexually explicit images by cellphone or Internet, yet few parents set rules about media use, the policy says.

"I guarantee you that if you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography," Strasburger said.

The policy notes that three-quarters of kids aged 12 to 17 own cellphones; nearly all teens send text messages, and many younger kids have phones giving them online access.

Mark Risinger, 16, of Glenview, Ill., is allowed to use his smartphone and laptop in his room, and says he spends about four hours daily on the Internet doing homework, using Facebook and YouTube and watching movies. He said a two-hour Internet time limit "would be catastrophic" and that kids won't follow the advice, "they'll just find a way to get around it."

Source: Yahoo News

Thursday, October 24, 2013

3 facts that every business blogger needs to know.

FACT: viewers are 85% more likely to purchase after watching a product video.
Auditory and aural learners prefer to hear new material. You can accommodate them by adding narrated video to your website. Further down the funnel, you may want to offer instructional webinars.
Creating these content assets doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, especially if you’re working with a savvy marketing partner. But if you’re stalled in this capacity, you can still cater to auditory audiences by using rhythmic language and patterns in your written content.
FACT: Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.
A picture is worth a thousand blogs when it comes to customers who are predominantly visual learners. And we’re not talking about generic stock photos of random business people, either. For every two or three written pieces you create about a new product or service offering, try to develop a visual equivalent like a workflow chart or a custom illustration.
This is not to say visual learners can’t comprehend an email blast or follow text only directions on a landing page. But it helps to remember that most people are drawn to vibrant photos and colorful graphs.
FACT: Social shares can trigger Google’s algorithm for “freshness,” giving your rank a temporary lift.
There's not much to say here, other than encourage your followers to share stories from your blog that they find interesting. One share can end up netting you 1,000 views of your blog in the end; which in turn can net you one new client.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Apple releases OS X Mavericks for free. Yes, free. That's something you'll never hear again.

Mac users can have Apple's latest Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks, for free, the company announced Tuesday at an event in San Francisco.

"Today we're going to revolutionize pricing," Craig Federighi, Apple's chief of iOS and OS X, said. The software is available today.

Apple introduced the system in June at its developers' conference. The company touted its extended battery life, tabs, and tags, while demonstrating new features in Safari, Maps, and iBooks.

Federighi reiterated the new features at Tuesday's event. A 13-inch MacBook Air with Mavericks gets up to an hour more of Web browsing and up to 1.5 hours more iTunes movie playback, he said.
He also explained how the system adjusts its memory based on the task. This allows for optimal quality when you're running a graphics-heavy program -- and speed when you're not. He also highlighted the iBook app, in which photos and videos can pop out of a textbook, and an iCloud keychain, which syncs payment information for online purchases.

Overall, the new operating system is faster and easier to use, and apps have a cleaner look.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Apple's iMessage security is a myth.

Apple's iMessage instant messenger service, which has made headlines for being uncrackable by law enforcement, is not so secure after all, according to Quarkslab.

An internal document from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration published by CNET in April stated that it was impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices.

"As Apple claims, there is end-to-end encryption," Quarkslab researcher Cyril Cattiaux said. "The weakness is in the key infrastructure as it is controlled by Apple they can change a key any time they want, thus read the content of our iMessages."

Further, metadata about messages is sensitive, Cattiaux pointed out -- and Apple has that metadata.

Apple insists that iMessage is not architected to let it read messages and insisted that Quarkslab discussed theoretical vulnerabilities that would require Cupertino to re-engineer the iMessage system to exploit it, something the company does not plan to do.

"At the 10,000-foot level, Quarkslab's technical argument is that it is possible to reverse-engineer Apple's encryption technology," Randy Abrams, a director of research at NSS Labs, told TechNewsWorld.

However, the effort required "is such that you already have to be a person of extreme interest to some group somewhere in the world with a high level of technical expertise, and be worth the investment of time and effort," he continued. "No average user, or even crook, is likely to be worth the effort."

Source: Tech News World

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do you have a Google / Google Plus account? You may be featured in inappropriate advertising. Here's how to opt out:

You may have seen a warning at the top of your Gmail or Chrome browser explaining that Google is changing its privacy policy. What Google is actually doing is starting a program where it takes things you’ve “liked” (or +1′ed, or rated) around the web, then use your name and face in advertisements that show up in other people’s Google search queries.

Remember when Facebook introduced a similar program, one unlucky guy became a spokesman for a giant barrel of lube (story link)? For the vast majority of people, this use of data is unacceptable.

The good news is that Google is giving you a one-click way to opt out of this sort of invasive use of your likeness.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Follow this link: https://plus.google.com/settings/endorsements.
  2. Now uncheck the box. Congratulations, you’re now opted-out of Google’s endorsement program.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Here's a perfect example of why your website needs to be secure. (Thanks for the $50 round trip tickets to Dublin, Ireland, United Airlines).

For the second time in about a month, a malfunction on United Airlines' Web site is letting customers buy tickets dirt cheap. Passengers can take advantage of the error by setting up a "MileagePlus" account and tricking the site into getting them a ticket with frequent-flyer miles they don't have.

We were able to reserve a roundtrip ticket from Boston, MA, to Dublin, Ireland for less than $50, which covers the cost of taxes and fees. If you're interested in taking this extremely discounted flight (or others), book quick; as of now the loophole is still open.

This isn't the first time United has experienced Web site errors to its detriment. In September, for about a one-hour period, the airline priced tons of tickets at $0. Some users reported booking multiple tickets, including Washington, DC to Honolulu and San Francisco to Newark, NJ, for nothing.

In the September glitch, the problem was reportedly because of a programming error. After United noticed the fire sale, it stopped all online booking for at least an hour. The airline said it would honor the tickets sold during that time. But users who were able to take advantage of Monday's malfunction aren't so lucky.

A United spokesperson stated the airline "will not honor these reservations" because they have "identified an issue where customers are intentionally manipulating our Web site." Welcome to the 21st century, United. Ever think it could also be partially your fault? Maybe you should think about upgrading your security?

Similarly, in July of last year, United canceled a group of tickets after some website users were able to book tickets between the United States and Hong Kong for four frequent-flyer miles and up to $43 in fees. Normally, it takes at least 65,000 miles for a round-trip ticket to Hong Kong in economy class.

If the United website is this poor with security, I can imagine how poorly guarded my credit card information is! Looks like they need a professional IT security company...funny, we happen to know of a great one :)

IES, Inc.
781-816-9437
iesAdvisors.com

*Legal disclaimer: IES is not promoting illegal or irresponsible activity. We will not take responsibility for you booking a ticket to anywhere your heart desires at a dirt cheap price. However, should you choose to take advantage of the booking website, we certainly wouldn't blame you. IES is simply providing information on the importance of securing a company's website in the technologically driven 21st century.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL COMPUTER USERS: New Crypto Locker Ransomware infecting computers & locking down files.


We are seeing a new version of Crypto Locker Ransomware infecting computers and encrypting files so that you cannot access them. A message comes up as shown in the above link demanding $300 to be paid in order to get the files back.

If you encounter this virus on a work or home machine, turn it off immediately. Do not click on anything to close it. These criminals attempt to panic you into clicking on the "close" buttons which are really an "Ok, infect my computer" button. It is extremely important that you simply turn off the power to the computer immediately and contact your IT support person.

We recommend enabling strict filters on any and all firewalls in both your home and office, which may block some valid HTTPS sites such as banking sites but it's safer than letting this new trojan/virus into your computer systems. The infection is also "network aware" which means that if an infected user has access to a shared folder on a server or another workstation, that user will cause all shared files to become encrypted and unrecoverable as well.

The trojan infection is coming from infected web sites. The links may come in via email or on social media sites. So be very cautious about ANY web links. As we always recommend the sender should clearly identify themselves, you should know the sender and the purpose of the link(s) sent. In any case - it's still best to ignore them and DO NOT click on any links you receive without first calling and verifying that the sender and the link is legitimate.

Please be safe in your email and Internet browsing. If you need assistance securing your computers or find your computers to be infected, feel free to contact us to discuss your options.

IES, Inc.
781-816-9437
iesAdvisors.com

Friday, October 11, 2013

Windows 8.1 is now available - new features:

By now, we all know how much Windows 8 sucks. It's quite unfortunate that this is the operating system that every computer now comes standard with. However, if you find yourself having to purchase a new computer, you will enjoy the small changes that have been implemented into Windows 8.1.

Below are a few top features of the new Windows 8.1:

Personalized Start Screen
Lock screen slide show: Set up your lock screen to automatically rotate through pictures that you choose from you local or SkyDrive folder.
Start screen background options: New, broad color palette for the Start screen colors and many more backgrounds including animated options.
Multi-monitor support: Different Windows Store apps can now run on all monitors at the same time. The start screen can stay open on one monitor.
Boot to desktop or all apps: Allows the user to select boot direct to desktop or all apps screen rather than the start screen.

Apps for Everyone
Internet Explorer 11: Many IE improvements including faster page load times, slide by slide browsing of your slides, 3D graphics, live website tiles, enhanced pinned site notifications, synchronized settings across all your windows 8.1 devices.
Windows Store: The new store homepage shows more info than before in detailed lists of top free, new releases, and picks for you. Each app listing is more descriptive and informative.
Skype: Skype enables you to easily switch between chat, audio and video call all in the comfort of one place while not missing what you're already doing.
Multiple windows per app: Open multiple windows for the same app side by side.
Slide down to all apps: Slide down from the start screen to see all of your apps in one view then slide up to switch back to the start screen.

Best User Experience and Familiar Desktop
Improved Windows Defender: Windows Defender adds high performance network behavior monitoring that enables it to detect new and constantly morphing variations of malware based on commonly used ad well known behaviors. *See note below.
Automatic app updates from the store: Your installed apps from the Windows Store automatically update.
Start button on taskbar: The start button is located on the taskbar allowing one click access to the start screen.

*Note: IES still highly recommends additional virus protection. From past experience with clients, we have found eSet NOD32 Antivirus to be the best provider.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The real Siri voice has been revealed!

Meet Susan Bennett - you may know her voice if you have ever flown Delta Airlines or used an ATM. But I bet you didn't know her voice was also your favorite digital companion, Siri.

"The first time I actually heard my voice as Siri was when my friend emailed me and said, 'Isn't this you?'" Bennett told CNN, who broke the story. "I went to the Apple site and that's where I heard the voice. I went, 'Oh! Hmm. That is me.'"

Bennett says she recorded what would eventually become the voice of iPhone in July of 2005, for four hours a day, every day of the month. "I had absolutely no idea where they would end up," she admits. "Originally, it was just a bunch of sentences and phrases that were created so that every single combination of vowels and consonants and syllables could be spoken."

All of which might explain why Siri is so sassy: "There are some people that just can read hour upon hour upon hour, and it's not a problem. For me, I get extremely bored. That's one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude...Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours."

Source: CNN

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Looking to hire a technology account executive: telecommute with some travel.

This is a great opportunity to gain sales experience with a young technology company. IES is a web development, custom software and application development, and all around IT consulting firm dedicated to finding business solutions that increase revenue and make business processes run smoother. Dedicated to service and integrity, IES is quickly becoming the go to solutions house for businesses looking for real world technology solutions. Are you ready for the opportunity to be part of the next big thing in IT?

Requirements:
  • Bachelors degree or equivalent experience.
  • 0-3 years sales or customer service experience.
  • Ability to work a full sales cycle and on commission only.
  • Strong communication and writing skills.
  • 10% travel required to close deals in person.
Job Description:
  • The Account Executive will make 75 phone calls and 25 emails per day, targeting small and mid sized businesses.
  • Must have timely follow up with prospects. 
  • Meet with prospects to close deals. 
  • Daily contact with the VP of Sales to address any questions or concerns.
  • Email all discovered leads and fax all closed contracts to VP of Sales at the end of each day.
Unique Benefits:
  • Work from home and be your own boss! (Occasional travel to Pembroke office and client offices).
  • Uncapped commissions and bonus opportunities.
Compensation:
  • 15% of the gross revenue you bring in, uncapped commissions. Average ticket is $5,000, so your average sale will earn you $750.
  • Weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly bonuses for hitting quotas set by CEO or VP of Sales.
  • Weekly bonus of up to $250, monthly of up to $1000, quarterly up to $2,500 and yearly of up to $10,000.
For consideration please email your resume and a cover letter to jobs@iesadvisors.com. Please, no phone calls about this position.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Looking for a job? Interview slots available, just solve this mathematical conundrum first.

Everyone wants to hire clever people. So one Australian startup called Bigcommerce thought it would separate the wheat from the hapless by posting ads that included a mathematical conundrum.

Solving it would allow the wise to access its special "Batphone," where eager people were waiting.

However, as Australia's News.com reports, prospective engineers seem to be having trouble solving the puzzle.

Below the message: "We only hire Software Engineers who can solve complex problems" is a math problem. (See image below).

Soren Harner, vice president of engineering, says it shouldn't be hard. Some of his current employees have already solved it.

It is said that Google interviewers used to ask extremely clever questions of candidates in order to make themselves feel intelligent. The company insisted a few months ago that it had ceased this fine practice

But this would seem to be a legitimate riddle...

Source: CNET

Thursday, October 3, 2013

You can buy anything online. Apparently that includes drugs, assassins, and firearms...

According to the sealed complaint filed by the FBI, federal agents arrested Ross William Ulbricht on Tuesday afternoon, charging him with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering.

The FBI also seized the Silk Road website, replacing its homepage with a banner noting as much.

Since its 2011 inception, Silk Road has been the go-to black market for all sorts of illegal products and services. Its draw? The online marketplace offered an easy way to find goods and services -- and transact the money in secret. The site had 957,079 registered users, according to the FBI.

The site was operated on an anonymous network known as Tor, making activity on Silk Road virtually untraceable. The only money accepted on Silk Road was the digital currency bitcoin, adding an additional layer of anonymity to buyers and sellers.

Over the past two and a half years, the FBI said the site generated revenue worth more than 9.5 million bitcoins -- valued at $1.3 billion.

The FBI said Ulbricht's net worth was essentially his value in Silk Road's commissions, which totaled more than 600,000 bitcoins ($85 million).

Silk Road wasn't restricted to illegal drugs. The FBI says it was also used to trade firearms, hire assassins and employ hackers.


Source: CNN

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Are you a Realtor? Here's why you need a personal website AND a website for each individual listing...

It is the 21st century - we all know that a home buyer can now do his initial research seated in front of a computer. The traditional approach of contacting an agent and having the agent arrange for home viewings that may or may not suit the client is no longer the first step. Today, the home buyer can select a range of houses suitable for viewing on the internet and then have a real estate agent arrange the home visits.

This now means that the agent is no longer the client's first contact. For that reason, it is critical that active agents establish an Internet presence. If a customer is clicking through homes and finds one of interest, it is important that the listing agent be "clickable" on the same page. Otherwise, the customer may call his friend, the Realtor down the street and ask him to step in.

As technology advances, along with Google and the ease of information access, a Realtor should have a personal website. No longer is a profile on Realtor.com sufficient. An innovative Realtor should have their site setup so that it provides additional pictures and information about active properties they have listed, as well as big sales and past accomplishments. Contact information in the form of phone numbers and an email template are essential: the key is to make it easy for the customer who has found an interesting property to connect with the listing agent.

Nothing will accomplish this more effectively than an attractive, informative website that personalizes the Realtor and connects him or her to the property in question. The Realtor's personal site should be in-depth, personable, and offer the client as many options as possible.

Lately, we have seen a rise in websites for each individual home listed as well in the form of number plus street name. (Example: 125RandomStreet.com). Often, this is a cheap and effective way to get the listing exposed to more than just passersby. Here, the Realtor can focus 100% of the site's content to featuring the listing with pictures and information, along with splashing their brand and information all over the page.

The idea is to maximize use of Internet technology to bring that potential customer into the Realtor's fold.

Are you a realtor in need of a personal website or listing site? Give us a call today:

IES, Inc.
781-816-9437
iesAdvisors.com

*Pricing discounts available for upfront payment and / or automatic listing subscription. Easy financing available with commission percentage.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Twitter Alerts brings instant emergency notifications straight to a user's cell phone.

Twitter has announced a new service that allows government agencies and non-governmental organizations to send emergency messages directly to users' phones during natural disasters or times of crisis.

Users that sign up for the service called Twitter Alerts will receive "critical information" via a text message or push notification when an organization marks a tweet as an "alert," according to the Twitter Alerts website.

"Twitter Alerts[...] brings us one step closer to helping users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren't accessible," Gaby Peña, a product manager at Twitter, said on the company's blog where the service was announced.

More than 60 organizations have signed up for the new system, including the emergency management departments of Louisiana, Florida, New York and Colorado as well as the American Red Cross and FEMA, said Twitter. International organizations such as The World Health Organization and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department have signed up.

Users can customize which organizations they receive alerts from through the service's setup menu.

Source: CNN

Friday, September 27, 2013

CONFIRMED: MA Tech Tax has been repealed!

Governor Deval Patrick has signed a bill repealing a less than two-month-old tax on computer and software services.
 
The governor’s press office announced the signing in a one-sentence release Friday.

The House and Senate voted this week to repeal the 6.25 percent sales tax, which went into effect July 31. The tax had been widely criticized by the state’s technology sector.

Patrick has said he supports repeal of the tax but expressed concern about the loss of revenue in the state budget. The tax was estimated to generate $161 million in the current fiscal year.

Legislative leaders say they believe the loss can be offset by unanticipated gains in overall tax collections.

Patrick would have had little chance of sustaining a veto, since only one state legislator voted against repeal.
 
Source: Boston.com

Bill Gates apologizes for Control-Alt-Delete login, slams IBM.

The Microsoft founder says the triple-key login should have been made easier, à la Apple's Macs, but that a designer insisted on the more complicated step.
 
"We could have had a single button. But the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn't want to give us our single button," Gates said Saturday during a question-and-answer session to launch a Harvard University fund-raising campaign. His comments have gained attention since a video of his Harvard Q&A was posted on YouTube on Tuesday.
 
"And so we had ... we programmed at a low level that you had to ... it was a mistake," he said, throwing up his hands to laughter and applause from the crowd.
 
Gates defended innovation on the earliest Microsoft software though.
 
"We did some clever stuff," he said. "We were able to experiment with a lot of stuff, but more on the software side than the hardware."
 
Long the first interface step for PC users, Control-Alt-Delete still exists in Windows 8 as a way of either locking the computer or accessing the control panel. While the system defaults to a log-in screen, users may tweak their settings to return to the old way of logging on to Windows.
 
Sometimes informally called the "three-fingered salute," the login required users to use both hands and was intended to avoid accidental keystrokes from rebooting a computer.
 
Engineer David Bradley, a designer on early IBM computers, said he invented the combination as a shortcut during development.
 
"It was like a five-minute job in doing it. I didn't realize that I was going to create a cultural icon when I did it," he said "... I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous."
 
Source: CNN

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Repealing the MA tech tax...we're almost there!

The Massachusetts House voted Wednesday to repeal an unpopular new technology tax on computer and software services.

The House vote was 156-1. The Senate is expected to vote on repealing the tax when senators come back into session Thursday.

Gov. Deval Patrick is open to repealing the tax, which state officials had estimated would generate $161 million in the fiscal year that began July 1. The governor said Wednesday that he's waiting to see what House and Senate leaders do to close the gap that repeal would leave in the budget.

Asked if he would veto the repeal if it didn't include additional revenues, Patrick said: "That's not where I am. They know what we have to deal with. I can't deal with it without them so I'm waiting to see what they do," he said. "Whether they do it all today or do it over the next several months, remains to be seen."

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said that no new taxes will be proposed to make up for the revenue. He's also said he anticipates no budget cuts.

DeLeo said Wednesday that he was proud of the repeal vote, which "sends a strong message to the world that Massachusetts is the place for innovators to succeed and thrive."

House Republican leader Rep. Brad Jones called the repeal bittersweet because it is "only undoing a stupid thing we did six weeks ago." (We couldn't agree more!)

Source: ABC News

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Android software lets users unofficially tap into Apple's iMessage service, with security concerns.

A functional version of Apple's iMessage has arrived on Google's Android platform, though not with Apple's blessing, or without potential security risks.

The software is called iMessage Chat and was created by developer Daniel Zweigart. Users enter their Apple ID and password credentials and can text with registered iMessage phone numbers and e-mail addresses freely.

Per iOS developer Adam Bell, the service appears to be tricking Apple's iMessage server into thinking it's a Mac Mini -- Apple's entry level Mac desktop -- in order to send and receive the messages. Jay Freeman, the creator of the third-party App Store alternative Cydia believes the app is piping the data through Chinese servers as well.

We are urging all Android users to avoid installing this software or offering their Apple ID account credentials.

What is iMessage?
Apple introduced iMessage alongside iOS 5 in 2011. The messaging service lets users on iOS devices and Macs chat with one another like they would send a text message. The service is not tied to any carriers and has been designed to work on non-cellular devices like Wi-Fi-only iPods and iPads.

The iMessage protocol has remained exclusive to Apple devices since its debut, mainly serving as a way to keep users locked into Apple's ecosystem of devices. BlackBerry used a similar tactic with its BBM service, which was set to arrive on iOS and Android devices this past weekend, but now faces a delay.

Source: CNET

Monday, September 23, 2013

We never expected someone to hack the iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner....just kidding.

A group of hackers in Germany says it has found a way to bypass the fingerprint-sensor security system on the new iPhone 5S.

The hackers claim they fooled the Touch ID biometric security of the iPhone 5S by photographing a fingerprint left on a glass surface and using the resulting image to create a fake "finger" which unlocked the phone. They demonstrated their exploits in a video posted Sunday to YouTube.
 
"We hope that this finally puts to rest the illusions people have about fingerprint biometrics. It is plain stupid to use something that you can´t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token," said Frank Rieger, a spokesman for the group, the Chaos Computer Club, in a post online.
 
In the post, the hackers said they snapped a high-resolution photo of a fingerprint, inverted it and laser-printed it with extra toner onto a transparent sheet. Then they smeared pink latex milk or white woodglue into the fingerprint pattern, lifted a thin latex sheet from it and placed it onto the sensor to unlock the phone.
 
"As we have said now for ... years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints," said a hacker, who goes by the nickname Starbug, on the Chaos Computer Club's site.
 
The group may be rewarded for its efforts. A website has offered a bounty of cash and other prizes for the first person or group to successfully hack the Touch ID system on the phone.
 
The site, IsTouchIDHackedYet, was created by Nick DePetrillo, an independent computer security researcher known for demonstrating hacks of smartphones, and Robert David Graham, owner of Errata Security, a cybersecurity firm. It invites donors to contribute to the bounty, which so far includes an assortment of cash, bitcoins (a form of digital currency), several bottles of booze and "a dirty sex book."
 
The total cash bounty topped $16,000 at one point, although one donor has since reneged on a promised $10,000 donation, according to the site.

Source: CNN

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Attention iPhone & iPad users...do NOT update to iOS7!

Just because your device is compatible doesn't mean it should be upgraded right away. Once you update your device to iOS 7, there is no going back to iOS 6 or whichever earlier iOS you were running. (Yes, it is possible, but extremely difficult and time consuming).

If you are not in a rush, wait a few weeks or months until Apple releases the first updated version of iOS 7. The early releases of the operation system can include bugs that should be addressed with subsequent iOS 7 updates. Let other eager people spend the next few weeks finding and reporting these issues so you don't have to deal with them.

Older devices can experience frustrating performance issues when upgraded to a new OS. The iOS 7 software was designed specifically for the hardware that's faster than your trusty old iPhone 4. If your device is anything older than the most recent generation, it might suddenly slow down, and battery life can suffer.

For right now, we are encountering memory issues

Read more at: http://www.heavy.com/tech/2013/09/ios-7-download-bugs-memory-glitches/
For right now, we are encountering memory issues

Read more at: http://www.heavy.com/tech/2013/09/ios-7-download-bugs-memory-glitches/
So far, here are the issues that have been reported to IES:
  • Apps reported to be slow - or in some cases, no longer working or randomly crashing.
  • Jailbroken iPhones no longer function as jailbroken.
  • Battery life has decreased.
  • Bug while using the keyboard - difficult to type.
  • Devices are lagging and automatically rebooting.
WE STRONGLY URGE ALL OF OUR CLIENTS TO HOLD OFF FROM DOWNLOADING IOS7. If you are eager and must do so, please remember to backup your device.
For right now, we are encountering memory issues

Read more at: http://www.heavy.com/tech/2013/09/ios-7-download-bugs-memory-glitches/cvd

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Looking for an easy way to create business to business blog posts?


Blogging doesn't have to be difficult. Actually, if done properly, it can be quite easy.
Unpack more formal content.You don’t have to be the world’s best writer to create regular blog posts. If you (or your outsourced marketing partners*) are already creating long form content in the form of white papers and eBooks, you can drill down and repurpose different subsections of those offers into individual blog posts.
Create industry roundups.It’s okay to acknowledge other experts in your field. In fact, a post that includes a round up of other quality resources, websites, blogs, or Twitter accounts worth following can win you points with prospective customers and with professional peers; both are more likely to promote spotlight sharing blogs.
Feature your everyday conversations.Interviews, client questions, FAQ-style posts written by employees with different areas of expertise… These can all make for great posts.

*Speaking of outsourced marketing partners...did you know IES offers this service? Give us a call or visit our website for more information.
IES, Inc.
781-816-9437
iesAdvisors.com

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

3 reasons why your business needs a strong blog.


Many businesses publish blogs, but not every company understands why they do it or the real value they can receive from a successful program. There are plenty of reasons why regular blogging is worth your time, but the biggest ones will depend on your goals, your audience, and your existing web presence.

Here's the short answer to the popular question: "Why should my business blog?
  • Companies that blog receive 55% more web traffic.
  • B2B companies that blog attract 67% more leads per month.
  • 57% of companies that blog gain a customer through their blog.
These are all compelling statistics, but they don’t all necessarily align with your priority metrics. Here are some broad ways to think about blogging goals:

1. For improved organic search rankings.
By creating and optimizing relevant blog posts, you can help more customers find you. Remember that blogging, unlike ads and direct mail, is a long-term investment. Over time, optimized posts grow your blog archive to represent all your most profitable terms. Even just a handful of posts that are imbedded with the right terms, tags, titles, and Meta descriptions could help you jump from the fifteenth page of Google to the first page of Google.

2. For help turning traffic into leads.
Maybe you’ve already cornered the market for your preferred terms, attracting boatloads of traffic but not so many actual conversions. Blogs can help you funnel existing traffic toward calls to action. After a few paragraphs of inspiring content, blog readers will be hungry for more information, like a guide or a tip sheet. This makes your blog the perfect place to position call to actions and ramp up your visitor-to-lead ratio.

3. For opportunities to teach, communicate, and foster relationships. Sometimes lead volume isn’t a concern for B2B companies. Many of our clients need help attracting higher quality leads or speaking to prospects who are farther along in the buy cycle. Your blog is a great place to differentiate your company and speak to these folks - either directly with posts that address your knowledge and experience or indirectly with posts that illustrate your sense of humor, your understanding of industry trends, or your opinion on recent news, etc.
Welcome to the 21st century...
...where the majority of your customers are going to be obtained through an online avenue. We understand that running a business is extremely time consuming! Give us a call - we can help you not only with your blog content, but all of your social media.

IES, Inc.
781-816-9437

iesAdvisors.com