Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Confirmed: 1.16 million credit card numbers stolen in Staples breach.

Staples said that malware infected the checkout stations at 115 of its 1,400 U.S. stores. It began removing the software in mid-September. Investigations in the meantime revealed that shoppers who made purchases at these stores across the country going back as far as July may have had their credit card numbers, expiration dates, verification codes and their names stolen in the hack.

In a statement, Staples said that 1.16 million credit and debit cards may have been affected.
Michael Regal, editor at large for Bloomberg News said on "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that consumers should not be held responsible for any fraudulent charges following the breach, but urged anyone who's shopped at the store in recent months to check their credit card statements carefully for any unusual activity.

Staples is offering free credit monitoring, identity theft insurance and a free credit report to any customers who used a credit or debit card at the affected stores during the breach. It posted the specific locations and dates online.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Here's the top 10 reasons why you may have a poor wifi signal, and how to fix them.

1). Don't put your router on the floor. Get your router off the ground at least 5-7 feet if possible. It’s kind of like a light bulb; when you turn it on you want it to shine as far as possible, not straight into the ground.

2). A lot of folks default to an upstairs office, but that’s usually located in a remote corner of the house. Even worse: the basement; that area makes it hard for the wireless signal to reach all areas of your home. Put your router in the center of the home, preferably on the first floor.

3). Don’t put your router in the corners of the house near windows. You might as well throw half your signal out the window if you do that.

4). Avoid locations next to or behind your TV because media components can seriously affect your wireless performance. Also, stay away from enclosed consoles with heat producing appliances like a DVD player or game console.  Those will also cut down your wireless signal.

5). Speaking of devices, steer clear of basic home appliances like cordless phones and microwaves that also can affect performance.

6). Don’t hide your router. Set it up out in the open, not tucked in a cabinet.

7). Got a fish tank? Wireless signals don’t pass well through water so keep it away from Nemo and Dory....They won’t be using it anyway.

8). We call this the Captain Obvious approach...Figure out where in your house you use wireless most often and put the router within a clean line of site to that room. A central location, off the ground and out in the open, is the ideal location. Most signals bounce off walls.

9). Limit applications that hog your speed. If your kids are always playing games online or doing video chats, this can make your wireless experience slower for everyone else.

10). Regularly reboot your router. There are a lot of software updates made to your equipment that require a restart just like any other consumer device. You can automatically reboot it by using an old outlet timer.

Bonus tip: Regardless if you rent or own your wireless router, make sure you have the latest equipment and are running the latest system software. Older wireless routers running older software may not be able to handle the speeds that you receive with your Internet service.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Every small business should care about Millennials, here's why...

The ways that Millennials spend money matters. Millennials add an estimated $1.68 trillion in purchasing power annually to the U.S. economy and as their wealth grows, so will their financial influence. Take a look at what small business owners should keep in mind when dealing with this up-and-coming group of spenders:

Millennials Value Experiences over Financial Advantages
A study from Eventbrite found that 75% of Millennials would rather spend money on doing something, rather than owning something. They take trips, go out to eat, and are comfortable spending money on experiences. As a result, they care about how they are treated and how they feel at the places where they do spend money; and this is where small businesses have an advantage with this young-to-mid adult demographic.

Millennials are More Electronically Connected than Ever
Almost 90% of Millennials who own smartphones say that they have them at their side all of the time, even when they are sleeping at night. Small businesses need to find ways to have a presence on smartphones, tablets and devices, even if they do not have a dedicated application for their businesses. This can be accomplished through strong social media accounts that prompt engagement, weekly newsletters and even opt-in choices for text messages. In order to really reach Millennials, small businesses must be mobile.

Millennials like Customization
Millennials appreciate when brands really understand who they are, and what it is that they want to buy. Targeted marketing is effective and they say that they would gladly trade personal information, like contact details or social media accounts, with brands in exchange for incentives (like coupons, discounts or insight into products that are a good match). Small businesses should get to know their Millennial customers and their needs as intimately as possible in order to keep them informed of products or services that benefit them.

It’s important for small business owners to not simply write-off the Millennial generation when it comes to a mobile presence, retaining customers and daily operations. Even the smallest companies can tap into their marketing techniques to better reach this growing group of spenders and maximize revenue in the process.

Do you target Millennials specifically in your marketing strategies? IES can help setup and run a targeted marketing plan. Give us a call today at 781-816-9437 to get started.

Monday, November 24, 2014

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, online scams are on the rise.

It's the holiday season for the bad guys too...but not the way you might think. They go into scam-overdrive mode. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the busiest online shopping days and they are out to get rich with your money. So what should you look out for?
  1. At the moment, there are too good to be true coupons that offer free phones or tablets on sites all over the Internet. Don't fall for it. Make sure the offers are from a legitimate company.
  2. Watch out for alerts via email or text that you just received a package from FedEx, UPS or the US Mail, and then asks you for some personal information. Don't enter anything.
  3. There is a fake refund scam going on that could come from Amazon, a hotel, or a well known retail chain. It claims there was a wrong transaction and wants you to "click for refund" but instead, your device will be infected with malware.
Be safe this holiday season. Remember to only use credit cards online, never debit cards. Be wary of bulk email with crazy, too good to be true now offers and anything that looks slightly off.

If you think you might have been scammed, stay calm and call your credit card company; shred that card and get a new one. Then call us to have your devices scanned for any infections.

IES, Inc.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Switch to Carbonite Cloud backup and get up to $200 cash!

We are able to bring this offer to all customers thanks to our new partnership with Carbonite, the world's leader in cloud backup. From now until further notice, when you switch cloud backup providers, you can get up to $200 back.

For a $100 rebate, purchase a new Carbonite Pro subscription through IES. Carbonite Pro includes 250GB of HIPPA compliant storage to share between an unlimited number of:
  • laptops & desktops
  • external hard drives
  • NAS devices
For a $200 rebate, purchase a new Carbonite Server subscription through IES. Carbonite Server includes 250GB of HIPPA compliant storage to share between an unlimited number of:
  • servers (physical and virtual)
  • databases and live applications
  • hyper-v
  • NAS devices
  • external hard drives
The legal mumbo jumbo:
For this promotion, you or your company must switch and be able to prove that you are switching (see verification methods, below) from one of the following paid companies / products to a Carbonite Pro ($100 rebate) or Server / Appliance ($200 rebate) subscription purchased through IES, Inc. To purchase your Carbonite subscription, please email or call contactus@iesadvisors.com / 781-816-9437.

Acronis Backup
Asigra Cloud Backup
CA (ArcServe)
CommVault (Commvault Edge, Simpana)
CrashPlan PRO
CTERA Agents
Dell (AppAssure, vRanger)
Druva (inSync)
EMC (Avamar, DataDomain, MozyPro, MozyPro Server, Syncplicity)
Google Drive
HP (Autonomy Connected, LiveVault)
iDrive for Business
Intronis (Channel only white label solution)
LogMeIn Backup
MS OneDrive (Formerly SkyDrive)
NetApp (Snap Manager)
SOS online backup
Symantec (BackupExec)
Vision Solutions (Double-Take)

Verification methods:
1.    Cancellation notice to the competitor with account / end-user name and product defined,
2.    Invoice from competitor showing account / end-user name and product defined, or
3.    Screen shot of competitor portal showing account / end-user name listed with product defined.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Got $100 burning a hole in your pocket? Monitor your cat's bowel movements via smartphone app.

Yes, you read that right. For just $100 you too can know when your cat takes a potty break!

We have a few different ways to make sure our cats are eating, but what about tracking the natural consequence of all that kibble? That's where Tailio comes in! It's a smart scale that sits under the litter box and monitors the, "behaviors" of your favorite feline.

The creators say that this is to make keeping an eye on your cat's health easier, and act as an early detection system for any possible ailments. They also claim that it's the first product of its kind.

Naturally, all of the collected data is accessible via a mobile app that can even send reminders for when the box needs cleaning -- you know, in case you've gotten used to the ever so sweet smell of cat urine and feces.

Ready to make your dreams of cat-poo analytics a reality? Check out the company's Kickstarter page using the link below.

Source: Kickstarter

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Switch from an iPhone and not receiving text messages? You may still be registered as an iMessage user. Apple has finally released a tool to fix the problem.

Customers who switched away from the iPhones have always had one nagging problem: iMessage. Apple has finally come out with a quick fix for that.

Apple quietly introduced a new tool over the last couple of days that solves one of the biggest headaches for former iPhone owners - lost messages.

The problem begins when iPhone users sign up for iMessage in the first place. The service, which Apple introduced in 2011, helps iPhone users communicate with one another over data networks and Wi-Fi, instead of using text messages on cellular networks. To do this, Apple keeps track of a user's phone number so that when another iPhone user tries to send a message, it can shift to iMessage instead.

What happens if users no longer own an iPhone? Until now, they had to turn off iMessage on their old phone before turning on a new Android / Windows Phone / Blackberry device. Some users, however, have said turning off iMessage doesn't always solve the problem.

Unhappy and former iPhone owners have sued Apple over the issue, stating that they fell into a void where iMessage texts do not travel. Worse, the sender usually thinks the message was delivered even though it never was.

Apple's new tool includes step-by-step instructions for unregistering iPhones still in the possession of their former users. And for those who longer have their iPhone, the page includes an option for typing in their phone number and receiving a confirmation code that can be entered to confirm their choice.

Find more information and unregister your number at this link: https://selfsolve.apple.com/deregister-imessage

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stay at Starwood hotels regularly? You will soon be able to use your smartphone to gain access to your room.

Forget losing your hotel key card in the small hours of the morning and facing a night sleeping in the corridor - thanks to a new Bluetooth connected app, guests at Starwood Hotels will soon be able to access their room using their smartphone.

Starwood Hotels, owner of more than 1,200 properties across the world, has announced the rollout of the feature for 10 of its hotels, with keyless access expected to roll out across all Aloft, Element and W Hotels in 2015.

The keyless entry works on Bluetooth LE enabled iPhones and Android smartphones thanks to the company's free SPG App. Guests simply sign up through the app, and when they checkin for their booking they will have the option to use SPG Keyless to access their room. Getting into the room is as simple as holding the phone up to the Bluetooth panel on the door and waiting for the green light.

The app also allows guests to view the details of their stay and receive push notifications on the status of their room, such as information on upgrades. But the biggest bonus is the time saved - visitors will be able to bypass the front desk when they get to their hotel, taking control of everything through the app.

Starwood Hotels promises advanced security, partnering with smart lock company Assa Abloy to ensure that specific room keys only work on specific phones and allowing digital keys to be wiped if a phone is lost.

Starwood's move is part of a worldwide shift towards smart hotel technology, with Hilton Hotels rolling out smartphone technology that allows users to enter their room without a key and even choose their room off the floor plan before they arrive.

Source: CNET

Monday, October 27, 2014

Host a website with IES? Your account has been upgraded for free!

Dear Customer,

Most of you will not notice the changes that took effect early this Monday morning. But IES has been hard at work upgrading our privately owned servers. We now provide each account with software called CloudFare, which make your website load 30% faster, use 60% less bandwidth, have 65% fewer requests, and is far more secure.

Please take note of your new name servers below:

As we have upgraded our servers, we have also upgraded our hosting plans. We now offer four plans. Our website will reflect these changes next month. Please contact us if you wish to learn more about our new plans and their features.
  • IES Managed with FTP Access - $60 / year ($5 / month)
  • Starter with cPanel & FTP Access - $120 / year ($10 / month)
  • Premium with cPanel & FTP Access - $180 / year ($15 / month)
  • Unlimited with cPanel & FTP Access - $240 / year ($20 / month)
IMPORTANT NOTE: We urge each customer to update their name servers as soon as possible, as the old name servers are being turned off on November 1, 2014. If you need help setting this up, please give our office a call or reply to this email. If your domain is managed by IES, we have automatically migrated your site to the new server and you do not have to do anything!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Love movies? Ready to be a part of the action? Get ready because virtual reality movies are coming!

"At some point, virtual reality is going to eliminate the need to go to a physical place and see a big screen. It can be even richer than the IMAX experience in a theater, because it can be 360 and all around you." -Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe

Did you think virtual reality was just for video games? So did Oculus at first. The company, which was acquired by Facebook earlier this year for $2 billion, counts a number of people with video gaming backgrounds among its earliest employees. Most of them believed that's where the main applications of the technology would lie.

But independent filmmakers have already produced a number of Oculus-ready short movies, which generally clock in at under 15 minutes. The challenge, directors say, is having to rethink storytelling for an interactive medium in which you can't control where the viewer looks.

Ikrima Elhassan's studio has shot a handful of virtual reality projects. He says "It's exciting because the rules haven't been written -- it feels very much like the days of early cinema".

The entire production process has to be rethought. Among the challenges: How do you direct a viewer's attention? How do you do cuts that aren't too jarring? How do you move people through a virtual environment without making them sick?

The jury is still out on whether traditional Hollywood production companies are going to be the ones to come in and produce the truly magical, original virtual reality content the right way. Oculus has met with a number of major studios to demonstrate the technology.

Some big studios are experimenting with the technology, including Fox Searchlight, which is reportedly working on virtual reality experiences tied to "Night at the Museum" and the upcoming Reese Witherspoon film "Wild."

Who knows what will come of it. But one thing is for sure - it should be interesting to see what happens in the years to come.

Source: CNN Money

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WiFi is now free when you visit the UK, if you have a MasterCard.

Using your phone or tablet when you're overseas can be pretty pricey. Luckily, for everything else there's MasterCard, as you can now enjoy free Wi-Fi in the UK thanks to the card in your wallet.

Credit card and payment services company MasterCard has signed up with British Wi-Fi provider The Cloud for free Internet connection in thousands of public places. The Cloud is a company providing Wi-Fi hotspots around the UK in public places including shops, bars, food places and train stations.

Download the MasterCard Priceless London WiFi mobile app, available now from Google Play or the Apple App Store, and you'll be able to wirelessly connect to the Web at no cost while in the UK.

So when you're on your holiday -- that's British for vacation -- or traveling for business, you can check email, catch up with your social media friends or even just find your way about without racking up huge data roaming charges or burning through your phone plan's data allowance. It also helps you sidestep extortionate WiFi fees from your hotel.

The app also offers deals and promotions based on where you are with MasterCard's Priceless Cities program. If you are planning on using the app, it's important to note that MasterCard says you have to download it and register for the service while you're still at home, before you travel -- so plan ahead and contact MasterCard for more details.

Source: Yahoo Tech

Friday, October 3, 2014

JP Morgan Chase admits to a significant data breach.

Today, JP Morgan Chase revealed that information on 76 million households and 7 million businesses was stolen from their systems due to malware on an employee laptop. This is added to the Home Depot and Target breaches. Here are a few things you can do to protect your personal information...
  • Change all banking passwords
  • Do not reuse passwords amongst banks
  • Monitor all of your accounts (even those not with JP Morgan)
  • Ask for alerts:
    • Daily balance via email & text message
    • Alerts for transactions over $500 (or whatever level you desire)
    • Alerts for number of daily transactions
    • Alerts when balance falls below a certain amount
  • Use 2-factor authentication
  • Avoid using debit cards
  • Minimize online banking
Demand Chase hold it’s software and security vendors accountable for their lapses - after all, they spend millions (if not billions) of dollars on this software. We as individuals cannot force Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, Cisco, and other software manufacturers to improve their security. It will take a large customer like JP Morgan Chase to force the software industry to deliver secure, hardened software.


Friday, September 26, 2014

5 tasks every business should have done by Halloween.

The season of pumpkin flavored everything may seem months away – and the holiday season even father off in the distance. Yet, in reality, once the back to school campaigns start to die down, small businesses should already be thinking ahead to the busy holiday season. Instead of waiting until the last minute to get ready, there are some steps you can take now to ensure that your small business ends the year on a high note.

Create a Holiday Marketing Plan
Did you know that 69% of consumers are more likely to frequent a local small business with a social media presence? It is important to decide how you will use all the marketing tools at your disposal, including social media and traditional routes, to your holiday advantage. The fall is also a great time to decide what holiday season outreach your small business will participate in and then start reaching out to get involved now.

Organize Tax Documents
Just as the whirlwind of the end of one year starts to settle, another looming time of year takes shape: tax season. Do yourself a favor and start getting organized now. Make sure you have important documents ready and available, and that your bookkeeping is up to date. If you plan to make any significant charitable donations before December 31, decide how much and where it will go.

Update Your Website
This is especially important if you are a retailer with an online presence. Make sure your site has your most recent merchandise listed and is easy to navigate for shoppers. While you are there anyway, double check all of your contact information and be sure that nothing has changed since you last modified it.

Even if your business doesn’t tend to get “dressed up” on a seasonal basis, take advantage of the cooler temperatures to update the look of your office. Change out faded furniture, update office equipment or just add new accessories that rejuvenate your professional look.

Touch Base with Customers
Get ahead of the holiday marketing game by sending out an email promotion, or just an newsletter with information about what is new and happening at your small business. Invite the customers in your email database to follow you on social media and to subscribe to your company blog. By reaching out to your customers long before your competitors do, you will plant the seed for success when the holiday season rolls around.

Whether you are a small business retailer, or service provider, gearing up for the end of the year (and the start of the next one) is a great way to prepare for a less stressful, more lucrative holiday season.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The iPhone 6 Plus has been out for six days...and the complaints are in!

As we get further and further into the technology world, the fad for Apple has always been this: The next new iPhone will be thinner with more features than ever. Is curving or bending part of those features? If you own an iPhone 6 Plus, it just may be.

According to TIME, with the larger screen on the newer iPhone is cool, it might also present a problem when you put it in your front pocket and you happen to wear tighter pants.

We hope you bought that insurance on those new iPhones! Be sure to keep them out of your pockets - buy a belt clip here at Shop IES. Limited quantities available; sale ends 9/30/14.

Source: Time.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

What traits do you need to start your own small business?

When it comes to starting your own venture, there are certain character traits that are essential. Here are five traits you need to successfully start your own small business...

Work Ethic:
You’re going to need a solid work ethic for two reasons: First, if you’re smart, you’ll begin your small business while still working at your current career. That takes a ton of pressure off of you in the beginning regarding revenue generation. Many businesses take some time to turn a profit, so it helps to keep cash flow coming in from another source until that happens. And second, starting a small business requires a ton of hard work – regardless of any overnight Internet sensation success stories you may have read about.

Time Management:
Again, if you start your business while at your current job, you’ll need to maximize each and every minute of your working day. Create a to-do list, cut off all Internet distractions such as social media or fantasy sports leagues, and take care of personal errands like grocery shopping or dry cleaning on your daily trek to and from work. Proper time management is crucial, as every minute you can free up is one more minute you can devote to your small business.

If you don’t truly believe in what you’re doing, your chances of success are minimized. If you’re not supporting a cause you truly feel enthusiastic about, you’ll have a hard time staying motivated. Often, the joy it brings you is the only thing you’ll have to fall back on when times get hard.

Ingenuity and Flexibility:
Being creative and ingenious are also parts of small business success. You might think about starting a landscaping business, but later find that organic gardening is more popular than landscaping with ornamentals. If you thought your ticket to success was social media marketing, but that hasn’t worked out, you might have to branch out into other advertising options. Being willing and able to change is a key asset in small business success.

Unless you’re extremely lucky and find success rather early on, you’ll need to be patient. Realize that patience is a virtue when it comes to launching your small business idea. It’s a stellar strategy if you want to get into small business ownership while still working at a traditional career, and you never know what might come of it.

Still on the fence of whether or not you should make the leap into being a business owner? IES can help you with a professional website, marketing, and social media plan. Give us a call at 781-816-9437 or email contactus@iesadvisors.com.

1. Work Ethic

You’re going to need a solid work ethic for two reasons: First, if you’re smart, you’ll begin your small business while still working at your current career. That takes a ton of pressure off of you in the beginning regarding revenue generation. Many businesses take some time to turn a profit, so it helps to keep cash flow coming in from another source until that happens. And second, starting a small business requires a ton of hard work – regardless of any overnight Internet sensation success stories you may have read about.

2. Time Management

Again, if you start your biz while at your current job, you’ll need to maximize each and every
minute of your working day. Create a to-do list, cut off all Internet distractions such as social
media or fantasy sports leagues, and take care of personal errands like grocery shopping or dry
cleaning on your daily trek to and from work. Proper time management is crucial, as every minute you can free up is one more minute you can devote to your small business.
- See more at: http://blog.fiverr.com/traits-need-start-small-business/?utm_source=el_ct&utm_term=n492#sthash.S5qgntss.dpuf

Friday, September 19, 2014

Upgrading to iOS 8? Avoid the iCloud Drive bugs.

The new iPhone 6 is here! As usual, with a new iPhone comes a new operating system release. For those of you downloading iOS 8, you may want to avoid using iCloud Drive. After you download iOS 8 and you begin the setup process, at some point you're going to be given the option of signing into iCloud Drive. We recommend you do not do it, as it's not meant to work properly until Apple releases the new Mac operating system.

If you use iCloud to sync documents and other things between your phone and your computer (as most people do) you will lose that sync ability if you activate iCloud Drive today. You can wait on it until October 21st - the date Mac's new operating system, Yosemite, is released. It is important to know that iCloud Drive, once activated, can't be reversed - you can't turn it off and go back.

Over all, iOS 8 is without question the most comprehensive, detailed upgrade that Apple has ever offered to its iPhone / iPad software. You are probably going to need to find somebody that can give you a tutorial on this. There are things throughout this operating system that, if you just wait to discover them, could take you six months to go through them all or find them all.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

3 things to consider before you install iOS 8 on your iPhone.

Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, is live and available for download & installation now. All you have to do is go to Settings > General > Software Update to make it happen. But wait!

1) Make sure you back up your phone before updating.
This is really important and something most people ignore. Then you start crying when the install freezes and suddenly you lost all of the pictures of your cat with that cute little vest on. Forever. You'll never see those pictures of Mr. Tinkle again. You don't know how your phone is going to act during the installation and you don't know what kind of hidden glitches may be in the new operating system. It's likely ok, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Always back up your phone!

2) Don't put iOS 8 on your iPhone 4 / 4S.
The update is available for you, but don't do it. (Frankly, you shouldn't have installed iOS 7 either). The older phone just doesn't fill the hardware requirements of the new OS and the performance suffers significantly because of that.
If you like your 4S, keep it. But don't expect any changes coming your way. It will be just like it is today - forever

3) Realize that install of iOS 8 needs 5.8GB of space.
Delete whatever music, videos, pictures, or applications you need to in order to make the switch.

If you're planning on buying the iPhone 6 tomorrow, you should keep this in mind as you make your selection of which version to purchase. Those of you going the cheaper route and getting the 16GB model are only going to have a little over 10GB of space available to play around with, which isn't a whole lot when all your photos, videos, and music are restored.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Does your company have a website? Here's 3 things it should never do.

Is your website doing it’s job? If you’re not seeing the traffic, signup, or revenue numbers that you expect then your website might be making some big mistakes, but they might not be the mistakes that you think. Easily overlooked and often improperly implemented, these are the 3 things that your website should never do.

Create Ambiguity
A successful websites lives and dies on the strength and clarity of its messaging. It’s not just the copy, successful website messaging flows from site design and architecture all the way down to background images and font-type. Ambiguity is your enemy, so desired action must be clear: filling out a form, buying a product, or calling a phone number. Once you establish the action goals you can battle ambiguity by ensuring that every component of your website plays a part in pushing visitors toward these desired outcomes.

Get Pushy
Video and audio players that start automatically, “sign in to continue” pop-ups on informational pages, oversized images that reduce page speed – forcing unnecessary decisions or experiences can be the fastest way to push visitors away from your website. Instead of getting pushy, you should understand what a visitor wants from your site, and then work to resolve those intentions into a positive outcome.

Skimp on Visuals
Low-quality stock photos or mismatched color schemes send a bad message, you absolutely can’t afford to cut visual corners when building an effective website. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel on visual experience, leverage standard practices that visitors expect and appreciate. Resources like Kuler allow you to view user submitted color schemes to get inspiration and see what works for others while quality stock imagery is available from places like iStockphoto.com or Shutterstock.

If you have a struggling website, give IES a call. We can help you get a much higher ROI on your website by redesigning or reconfiguring it.

IES, Inc.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Web's newest scam: Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures.

There is a new (true) current event which unfortunately is the ultimate click bait. A hacker got into Apple's iCloud and hacked the account of Jennifer Lawrence and many other celebrities. Apparently, she had taken nude pictures of herself and they are all out there now. You would think these celebs would have learned by now, but no. Apple has patched a bug that would allow brute force attacks on iCloud, and this may have been how the hack was done, or it could be simply a guessed password.

The cyber criminals are already working on campaigns to exploit this event and these are going to be very enticing phishing attacks over the next few months.

This weekend, it was all over the news that hackers leaked nude pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities. The news is true, and the pictures are out there. The problem is that the bad guys are going to use this to trick people into clicking on links and open attachments, which will infect your computer with malware. Do not get curious and fall for these scams.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Do you use Craigslist to sell? You may want to check out these facts to avoid ad deletion...

First and foremost, keep separate Craigslist accounts when posting from home and the office. When posting from home, you are likely the only person posting from that location. While at the office, chances are multiple people are posting. You do not know how others are posting, what tools they use, and what boards they are posting to, and not to mention multiple people from one location will look very spammy to Craigslist. Keeping your accounts separate will make sure your home account (most likely to in good standing) does not get polluted by other people’s behaviors in the office.

Keep your ad content varied.  Craigslist has an algorithm to detect spammy and duplicated ads. It is important to write good ad descriptions. We recommend writing multiple versions of ad descriptions for best results. Using one generic description for multiple ads is a huge red flag.

Do not post to multiple boards with one Craigslist account. Sometimes you might have multiple listings in very far locations, which might need you to post to different boards (like Boston vs. North Shore). Posting many ads to multiple board is another red flag.

Do not post simultaneously using one Craigslist account on multiple computers. Do not switch computers while using the same Craigslist account within 24 hours. To be safe, within 24 hours, only post from one location, with one computer, and one Craigslist account.

Do not switch between your Craigslist accounts in one location frequently. Switching between many Craigslist accounts in one location is yet another red flag.

Post locally, this means do not use proxies and VPNs, particularly public ones.  Each internet connection has an IP address, kind of like your mailing address, which is how others identify you on the Internet. You should post from a local location. For example, if you are posting from New York to the Boston board, Craigslist knows and will mark you as a spammer.

Don’t expect 100% go through rate. A 20% deletion rate is normal, particularly if you are posting every day. High deletion rate indicates something is wrong with either your location, your account or the ads you are posting.

If you are in need of a professional company to manage your Craigslist posting, give IES a call / email today! 781-816-9437 / contactus@iesadvisors.com

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Findster’s GPS tracker locates missing kids or pets, with no monthly fee.

There are a number of gadgets, both new and old, that allow parents to geo-locate their children – or let puppy parents track down a wandering Fido – but many of these either fall short of the task at hand by relying on Bluetooth alone, or require a monthly fee, like the FiLIP smartwatch for kids or the Amber Alert GPS, for instance. A new gadget now in the works called Findster differentiates itself through the use of proprietary RF technology, which allows for a longer range than Bluetooth, as well as no monthly fees.

The Findster team, based in Portugal, includes founders Virgílio Bento, David Barroso, Paulo Fonseca, André Ferreira, Márcio Colunas and David Dieteren, whose background includes a mix of experience in hardware, software, and design.

Not a parent himself, Bento admits that the idea for Findster came to him after he went looking for an affordable GPS tracker for his dog, who would sometimes become lost. But he was disappointed that most of the better GPS trackers required a monthly fee – which was hard to swallow given that the gadget wasn’t something he would need, except on a handful of occasions.
After deciding to tackle the problem himself along with the Findster team, Bento realized that there was a bigger need than just hunting down missing pets.

“People with kids told us, that is perfect for my kids. And we thought, okay, maybe we have a different segment here that’s important to acknowledge,” he says of the device’s transition in the far more crowded, and potentially more profitable, “kid tracker” space.

The founders began work on the device last year, and raised $67,000 during a prior crowdfunding campaign whose goal was $50,000. They’ve now just opened up an extension to that campaign to allow additional backers to get in. With still nearly a month left to go, Findster has raised over $11,000 so far on the new campaign.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paper business cards may be dying. Check out this cool replacement.

The humble business card still hasn’t been killed off by digital alternatives. Being handed a piece of dead tree with contact details printed on it in ink arguably increasingly stands out in an age when digital data is so cheap and mutable.

But paper inevitably presents a barrier to accessing and utilizing the data thereon — hence alternatives such as QR code business cards, and business card scanning systems like CardMunch.
Well, here’s a third alternative in the making: SwivelCard is a paper business card that — by way of a spot of patented printing and some clever perforations — also includes a USB stick interface so the business card can be stuck into a USB port and then point the user to a particular webpage.

The webpage you associate with individual SwivelCards can also be changed — so you could update it with content specific to the person you’ve given a particular SwivelCard to, for instance. One suggested scenario there is for a wedding photographer to personalize the photo content they showcase to a potential client, for example.

And, being as it has a digital interface, the SwivelCard also includes the ability to track usage — so you can see where your business cards have ended up, and how much people are accessing them. So it’s a paper business card with analytics.

How does the SwivelCard manage to stick a USB drive onto a piece of paper? “We invented a way to print a USB drive onto/into paper.  We use a special metallic ink to print the USB contact strips & embed a small chip in the paper,” says the startup.

For those without a USB drive, the card does also include NFC and a printed QR code so the data can still be accessed in other ways.

At present SwivelCard is a patent and a prototype. Its makers are raising crowdfunds on Kickstarter to bring their smart business cards to market, but have already doubled their original target of $10,000 with a further 33 days left of the campaign — meaning they have the means to deliver on their promises.

They’re offering taster packs of mini versions of their SwivelCard for $29 and $79 but if you’re after the full fat offering — which includes all your details printed on it, with a design of your choosing — it’s now a $289 Kickstarter pledge for a pack of 200 SwivelCards, so these smarter paper business cards don’t come cheap.

If all goes to plan, the makers are aiming to ship packs to backers starting from this October.

Source: Tech Crunch

Monday, August 11, 2014

If you use Facebook on your mobile device, you have surely seen this message to upgrade. We urge you not to.

If you’re anything like your neighbor…you probably use Facebook on your phone way more than you use it on a computer. You’ve been sending messages from the Facebook app and it probably always asks you if you want to install the Facebook Messenger App.

It’s always been optional but coming soon to your Facebook experience….it won’t be an option…it will be mandatory if you care to send messages from your phone.

No big deal one might think…but the part that the average Facebook User doesn’t realize is the permissions you must give to Facebook in order to use the Facebook Messenger App. Here is a short list of the most disturbing permissions it requires and a quick explanation of what it means to you and your privacy.
  • Change the state of network connectivity – This means that Facebook can change or alter your connection to the Internet or cell service. You’re basically giving Facebook the ability to turn features on your phone on and off for it’s own reasons without telling you.
  • Call phone numbers and send SMS messages – This means that if Facebook wants to…it can send text messages to your contacts on your behalf. Do you see the trouble in this? Who is Facebook to be able to access and send messages on your phone? You’re basically giving a stranger your phone and telling them to do what they want when they want!
  • Record audio, and take pictures and videos, at any time – That means that the folks at Facebook can see through your lens on your phone whenever they want..they can listen to what you’re saying via your microphone if they choose to!!
  • Read your phone’s call log, including info about incoming and outgoing calls – Who have you been calling? How long did you talk to them? Now Facebook will know all of this because you’ve downloaded the new Facebook messenger app.
  • Read your contact data, including who you call and email and how often – Another clear violation of your privacy. Now Facebook will be able to read e-mails you’ve sent  and take information from them to use for their own gain. Whether it’s for “personalized advertisements” or if it’s for “research purposes” ….whatever the reason..they’re accessing your private encounters.
  • Read personal profile information stored on your device – This means that if you have addresses, personal info, pictures or anything else that’s near and dear to your personal life…they can read it.
  • Get a list of accounts known by the phone, or other apps you use – Facebook will now have a tally of all the apps you use, how often you use them and what information you keep or exchange on those apps.
After reading more about it and studying the permissions, I will personally avoid downloading the new app to my phone. I still have my Facebook app, but I just won’t use the messaging feature unless I’m at a computer.

Source: CBS Local

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Congratulations, Internet. You've successfully raised $55,492 so an Ohio man can make potato salad for the first time.

His crowdfunding effort on the website Kickstarter closed Saturday night. It became a social media phenomenon since it launched a month ago and the contributions came from nearly 7,000 people. Half of those gave less than $3 and 860 gave $35 or more, according to data posted by the site.

It wasn't to sponsor the culinary creation of a famous -- or even skilled -- chef. When asked what type of potato salad he would be cooking up, the man behind the project, Zach Brown, admitted he didn't have a recipe in mind, nor any experience.

"I'm not sure. It's my first one. Probably whatever is easiest," he wrote.

His effort began with a $10 goal and quickly caught steam. In the first week, Brown raised $11,000. Along the way he set new benchmarks for success. If the effort raised $3,000, for example, he promised to "rent out a party hall and invite the whole internet to the potato salad party."

After exceeding his goal many times over, Brown pledged to do some good with "our little Internet joke about potato salad." In an op-ed for CNBC, he promised to donate "a significant portion" to an endowment fund at a non-profit to support hunger and homeless efforts. The non-profit, The Columbus Foundation, said the fund would "be sure there is a legacy left from the campaign."

Brown has a lengthy list of other commitments. In exchange for the money, crowd funders promise their contributors something in return -- like the hundreds of commemorative t-shirts, hats and cookbooks Brown offered. To all 6,911 donors, he committed to "say your name out loud while making the potato salad." And he owes 3,330 contributors a literal piece of his effort: "a bite of the potato salad."

Source: CNN Money

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bluetooth and a blender? Now this is the coolest cooler we have ever seen!

One of the hottest Kickstarters at the moment is also the coolest. It's hard to imagine a cooler could inspire passion, but the Coolest cooler is winning crowdfunding fans by throwing everything from a blender to a Bluetooth speaker into the mix.

The Coolest has some features that are just plain smart and practical. It comes stocked with all-terrain wheels, gear tie-downs for strapping your extra stuff on top, plate and knife storage, and an LED lid light to shine down on the glory of its contents.

It holds 60 quarts and an internal divider doubles as a cutting board. The cutting board comes in handy when you want to slice limes for your margaritas, which you will be making with the 18-volt battery-powered rechargeable blender that attaches to the top of the cooler.

The blender certainly catches the eye, but the technology doesn't end there. There's a USB charger for powering up your smartphone and a removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker so you can blast "Margaritaville" while you're making your blended frozen beverages. The Coolest is not so much a cooler as it is a party companion.

The Kickstarter has certainly created a new cooler fanaticism. The original $50,000 funding goal got left in the dust. Now, nearly 11,000 backers are in for over $2 million with a long 49 days to go. The cooler is going for a $185 pledge. Ryan Grepper, the man behind the Coolest, is looking into stretch goals such as more colors, bigger wheels, and perhaps even a solar charger.

Check the Coolest out on Kickstarter by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bitcoin is on the rise, building a reputation as a payment processor.

Yet another big retailer has started accepting Bitcoin. This time it's online computer and software seller Newegg.

That means you can buy an Asus Transformer tablet on Tuesday for $375, or 0.5751 BTC. And it shows this independent digital currency thing is actually gaining steam.

In addition to buying gadgets on Newegg.com, you can use bitcoins to book travel with Expedia, CheapAir and Virgin Galactic; subscribe to Dish Network or the Chicago Sun-Times; shop on Overstock, TigerDirect and buy tickets to the Sacramento Kings or San Jose Quakes. Or you can purchase the latest albums by metal band Mastodon and rapper 50 Cent.

But here's the caveat. These companies are immediately converting those bitcoins into cash. They accept Bitcoin payments, because they are cheaper to process than credit card and PayPal payments. But they are wary of hanging onto the volatile currency for too long.

Source: CNN Money

Friday, June 27, 2014

Here are five tips to protect your identity online.

1. Change passwords once a month. Passwords are the keys into your life. If a criminal gets access to your email or any of your online accounts, it's surprisingly easy for them to worm their way into other aspects of your life.

Assume your passwords will periodically get compromised. Adobe, AOL, eBay, Kickstarter and Yahoo have all had major security glitches in the past few months.

2. Give the wrong contact information at checkout. Recent data breaches, like last year's Target hack, show that companies aren't responsible enough to safeguard that information. Every time a store clerk asks for your zip code or phone number, that data gets aggregated. So retailers not only have databases that show where you live. They can find out much more about you, like your salary, credit history and birthday.

3. Need photo ID? Don't show your driver's license. This is a general rule for privacy. Don't reveal more than you have to. A driver's license shows your birthday and address.

Next time your doctor's office asks for identification with a photo, show them something else, like your office building badge.

4. No banking apps. Be particularly careful about access to your bank accounts. Although most credit cards have fraud protection, your checking and savings accounts don't.

Because of how easy it is for a computer to get infected with a malware that spies on you, we don't recommend shopping and banking on the same computer.

5. Keep one email account for junk mail only. When companies demand an email address, give them a dummy address. That way you don't have to be bothered with all the spam and annoying advertisements; and it shields your real email from junk. Plus, if those companies get hacked, your real account remains safe.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Social media can be great for your company, as long as you know how to properly use it.

Every business should have a social media presence, and a professional that can manage their accounts. Just make sure your company doesn't end up in a situation like these ones...

Source: YouTube / CNN Money

Monday, June 23, 2014

New technology allows you to watch lightning strikes around the world in real time.

There's a mesmerizing new project from an organization called Blitzortung.org that lets you see real-time lightning strikes around the world. It works using a network of volunteers willing to purchase and set up a $275 detection kit consisting of an antenna system, amplifier and controller.

Once activated, each station can spot the radio signals from a lightning strike and transmit the precise time and location to the Blitzortung.org's servers. From there, the lightning is displayed, complete with a bug zapper sound, on one of five maps including North America and Europe, along with a line between the strike and detecting station. Curiously, a sensor in New York can pick up lightning in Cuba, for instance, since the low frequency RF waves from lightning can travel thousands of miles.

Source: Engadget

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Did you know, in many states, it is illegal to talk on your cell phone while driving?

Did you know, in many states, it is illegal to talk on your cell phone while driving? It is, however, legal (in most states) to use a Bluetooth headset.

Check out our newly stocked line of Apple and Samsung Bluetooth headsets below. For as little as $29.99, you can drive safely...and legally!

*These devices will work with any Bluetooth enabled phone - Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola, HTC, Sony, etc.

**We are not lawyers here at IES; we're technology experts! Of course, laws vary from state to state. Please check into your local laws before using any wireless device while driving.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Critical alert regarding a new variation of the Crypto-Locker Trojan.

There is a new variation of the Crypto-Locker Trojan currently attacking computer networks in the US. This is rampant right now so your extra vigilance and care is extremely important.

Do NOT click on any email attachments, faxes, PDF files or any other attachments unless you are 100% positive that it’s from someone you know well AND you are expecting the attachment. Many local companies have already been affected and their networks taken down by this Trojan. These emails are made to look like they are coming from banks, shipping companies and many other vendors we all use on a daily basis.

There is currently no antivirus or anti-malware that can protect you from this nor can it remove and fix the problem afterwards. The only resolution is to format and re-install the affected systems and servers and in many cases, unless you have an offsite backup solution, your critical data is encrypted and unable to be restored. We have found that even paying the ransom will not get your data back as the criminals do not respond even after you’ve send the money.

This is a network Trojan as well so if your local system gets infected it will attack and encrypt any and all files on shared drives – essentially putting your local data beyond your reach and un-useable.

If you make a mistake and click on the attachments which take you to a link outside your office you will be informed that your data has been encrypted and to send a payment to ….. If you see this popup, please immediately turn off your computer, unplug it from the wall and remove the network cable that connects you to your network, the server and the internet. This might help with protecting some of the data on your network shares.

We will keep you informed and updated as this Trojan continues to make it way throughout the US.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns related to this, please do not hesitate to contact our office at contactus@iesadvisors.com or 781-816-9437.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Big changes are coming to the iPhone messaging platform.

Apple's next mobile operating system means significant changes for how iPhone users send and receive messages.

If you're an Apple user, this is a big deal. Messages is the most frequently used app in iOS, and is how most users share texts, photos and videos with each other.

With iOS 8, coming this fall, Apple is borrowing features from popular messaging platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp while unveiling some new tricks of its own.

Here's a quick look at the new messaging features announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference...

Audio and video messages
The text window in the next version of iMessage will contain a little microphone button. Users hold a finger down on the button, record a short audio or video message, and send it with the swipe of a finger, all without leaving the app.

In this way, Apple is taking a page from WhatsApp, which also allows audio and video messages. Facebook bought that startup, which has a huge user base overseas, in February for $19 billion.
Audio files will appear in your Messages stream as jagged lines. Simply tap on them to listen to the message. Apple did not say Monday whether there will be a limit on the length of the messages.

Self-destructing messages
Photo and video messages that disappear after a few seconds have been popularized by Snapchat, the mobile messaging app that reportedly spurned multibillion takeover offers from Facebook and Google last year.

This ephemeral format has been especially popular with teens and young adults who like to exchange silly or racy messages without fear they'll be haunted by them later.

Now Apple is getting into the game. Audio and video messages within iOS 8 will automatically vanish within a few minutes unless you adjust your settings.

"You don't want to have to clean these up. Audio and video messages can take up space," said Greg Joswiak, head of iOS product marketing. "So they're set to self-destruct unless you choose to keep them."

Do not disturb
Sure, group messaging threads among friends can be fun. But sometimes all the back-and-forth chatter gets out of hand.

This feature lets you mute a thread for a while while reserving the option to rejoin the conversation later.

If you've ever been on one of those noisy threads that just keeps buzzing in your pocket, now you will be able to choose when to leave.

Lock-screen functions
If you're in a hurry, responding to a message on an iPhone can be a little cumbersome: You have to punch in your passcode and then hit the Messages icon just to get started.

With iOS 8, users can listen and respond to audio messages without leaving the lock screen -- just by holding the phone to their ear. The phone detects when it's next to your face, plays the message and lets you record a brief response. Lower the phone, and the message is sent automatically.
Other stuff
If your contacts choose to share them, their locations will pop up in group-messaging threads.
For the first time, users will be able to add or delete someone in the middle of a group-messaging thread.

And message attachments - images and videos mostly - will be collected in one place so you don't have to scroll back through longstanding threads to find them.

Source: CNN Tech

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Google now testing super secure email.

It's called "End-to-End" encryption, and it's the best way to stop anyone from snooping on your emails. Google would turn your emails into jumbled code, and the only person who can see the email in plain text is the trusted person on the other end.

Hackers don't stand a chance. In fact, neither does the National Security Agency. It's the kind of encryption ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden used to communicate with journalists before he went public last year with damning documents proving the extent of U.S. government surveillance. It's what spies use...it's that good.

But End-to-End is not available just yet. In a blog post, Google said the program is in a public testing phase. After that, you'll be able to download the app and add it to your Google Chrome Web browser. If you use the browser, it'll work with any Web-based email provider.

"We recognize that this sort of encryption will probably only be used for very sensitive messages or by those who need added protection," wrote Stephan Somogyi, a Google product manager who oversees security and privacy, in the blog. "But we hope that the End-to-End extension will make it quicker and easier for people to get that extra layer of security should they need it."

Here's how Google's super encryption would work: Imagine you want to send a sensitive letter by mail. You can't just lick the envelope shut. Postal workers might open it. But they can't open a lock.
Your friend buys a padlock, opens it and sends it to you. He keeps the key. You receive his lock, place your letter inside a box and close it with your friend's lock. You send it. Now only he can open it with his private key, which never left his possession.

Google will let you share locks, but never keys. So far, End-to-End encryption has proven tamper-proof.

This is only the latest move by Silicon Valley giants to beef up their security since last year's revelations that the U.S. government is gathering our emails and phone calls without warrants. In December, executives at the world's largest technology firms called on the U.S. government to respect Internet privacy rights, dial back its intelligence gathering and make spying programs more transparent.

Since then, Microsoft and Yahoo have been working on encrypting the information they house and transmit. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called President Obama directly to complain about the NSA. And they've all shed light on the scope of secret data requests.

Source: CNN Money

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The psychology of pricing and how your customers think.

Understanding how customers think and feel about prices can be a huge advantage when it comes to influencing buying decisions. Prices set too low can erode profits while prices set too high can scare customers away. So, how can you find the right balance? Here are some great insights on the psychology of pricing to help small businesses make their prices more appealing to customers

Compare At Your Own Risk
Asking customers to compare your product to a competitor’s may seem like a smart idea, especially if you offer a lower price point. But that strategy often can backfire. Consider, for example, a sign at your local drugstore encouraging customers to compare the price of the store's brand of aspirin to a national brand. But rather than choosing the cheapest product, customers may buy nothing or purchase the national brand because they perceive it as a less risky choice, according to a study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

It turns out consumers tend to put greater weight on the disadvantages of each choice rather than the advantages when they make comparisons. In two separate trials, researchers found that placing differently priced products together to encourage shoppers to make their own comparisons had positive results. In contrast, asking customers to make a comparison made them much more cautious and risk adverse. Small businesses need to understand that while comparative selling can be powerful, it’s not without risks.

Time vs. Money
A focus on selling time, or how a customer experiences a product, may get better results than a focus on price. For many customers, the concept of time can evoke a personal connection with a product, which typically leads to more favorable attitudes and purchasing decisions. In contrast, asking customers to think about the money they’re spending to purchase that product can create a more negative reaction.

Researchers did find one important exception: When social status is a driver for buying a product, such as designer jeans or a luxury car, focusing on money can actually help increase sales. The bottom line: It’s critical to first consider how consumers most identify with a product (through experience or possession) and then highlight either their time or money spent accordingly.

Drop The Dollar Sign
A study on how prices were presented on menus offers interesting insights for small businesses in any industry. Lunch customers at St. Andrew’s restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in New York were offered menus with three options: Prices listed with a dollar sign ($16.00), prices listed as numbers without a dollar sign (16), and prices that were written out (sixteen dollars). Guests given the numeral-only menu (16) spent significantly more than those who received the other menus, researchers found.

Other research highlights the power of 99 cents. Consumers tend to compare prices by looking at the left digits first, while often ignoring the digits on the right. So a price with a lower dollar amount that ends in 99 cents can lead to greater sales. There’s a reason we see .99 so frequently, and small businesses should consider doing the same; especially when price comparisons are important to sales.

Weigh The Anchoring Effect
Anchoring a product between similar items with higher and lower prices encourages value-minded customers to purchase the middle item as the “compromise choice”. In a study of subscription prices for The Economist, subscribers were offered web content for $59, print-only content for $125 or a combined print and web subscription for the same $125 price.

Logic says hardly anyone would pick the middle option when they could get print and web access for the exact same price. But when the middle option was taken away, more customers gravitated toward the cheapest option. In contrast, having the middle price point changed the decision process by making the combined web and print subscription seem like a better deal. Context is critical when setting prices.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

'Hashtag,' 'selfie,' and 'tweep' have officially been added to the dictionary.

Tech terms continue to wind their way into the dictionary.

"Hashtag," "selfie," and "tweep" are just three of the latest words recently added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster announced on Monday. The new words have already popped up in the online edition and will join the print version as well.

Other tech terms that are now part of the club include "crowdfunding," "big data," "gamification," and "steampunk."

Merriam-Webster has also added "catfish" to the list. In addition to describing the actual fish, "catfish" refers to a "person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes." The word came into play following a documentary and MTV TV series as well as the bizarre hoax perpetrated against football player Manti Te'o involving a nonexistent online girlfriend.

"So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods," Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, said in a statement. "Tweep, selfie, and hashtag refer to the ways we communicate and share as individuals. Words like crowdfunding, gamification, and big data show that the Internet has changed business in profound ways."

Source: Merriam-Webster

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Have an emergency? Text 911.

If there's ever a situation where you need to text a 911 operator instead of dialing the number directly, you're in luck. As of today, the country's four big carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, will officially route texts addressed to 911 to your local police.
This is a good thing - with more than 6 billion texts sent every day since 2012, being able to reach the police by typing rather than talking is a logical next step that could make a huge impact for people seeking help. But that doesn't mean you can, or even should, start texting your emergency instead of calling.

The first and most important point to understand is that although these four carriers have now enabled Text to 911 on their end, the have no say over whether your local police station implements it or not. Each emergency call center, or PSAP (public safety answering point), as it's known in the public safety sphere, has to decide how and when to allow Text to 911. Some already have, but others may take longer as they tackle a large set of issues that may include their size and financial resources.
Not only do these PSAPs have to buy or license the right tools to carry on conversations over text, they must also establish protocols for communicating with texters, and then train their dispatchers. All of this can take time, especially in the face of a few hurdles such as judging a message's context, routing issues, and delivery delay issues.

While the agencies involved with the Text to 911 program still urge you to call when you can and save texting as a final resort, there are right times to use it.

For instance, texting 911 gives Americans with speech and hearing impairments direct access to a 911 operator. And texting is practically the mother tongue of today's teens, who might feel more comfortable or more natural drafting an SMS before finding the dial screen.

There are also serious situations in which uttering a word would make the situation even more dangerous.

*Disclaimer: this service is not available everywhere. Consult your local authorities before texting 911.

Source: CNET

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shocking news...your Snapchat pictures were never secure.

On Thursday, Snapchat settled charges with the Federal Trade Commission that it deceived customers on several levels. The app wasn't totally secure, and the company was secretly spying on its users.

But the company is essentially getting a slap on the wrist. It has to allow independent privacy auditors to inspect the company for the next 20 years, and it was forced to promise it will be more forthright with customers. That's about it.
The heart of the issue is Snapchat's assurance that customers' messages were safe and private. Snapchat's whole business was built on that promise.

For instance, Snapchat photos have a self-destruct timer. But recipients could get around the auto-destruct by saving an image of what was on the screen.

The company also had said it took appropriate security measures to keep the information safe. However, "disappearing" videos didn't actually vanish. They were stored, unencrypted, on phones. That meant anyone could just plug a device into a computer and play the files.

Snapchat was also quietly collecting information about its customers. The company promised it wouldn't track users, but it surreptitiously followed an Android phone's every move. It also uploaded entire contact lists from iPhones without letting a customer know.

That blew up in the company's face when hackers stole the contact information for 4.6 million Snapchat users and posted their usernames and partial phone numbers online.

"If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its service to consumers, it is critical that it keep those promises," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.
On Thursday, Snapchat admitted to making mistakes. The company said it updated its privacy policy, app description and notifications to users.

"While we were focused on building, some things didn't get the attention they could have. One of those was being more precise with how we communicated with the Snapchat community," the company said on its blog.

Source: CNN

Friday, May 9, 2014

Out of storage on your iPhone or iPad? Here's how to add more space cheaply.

Apple's devices infamously rely on fixed storage. If you need more space, well, too bad.

Granted, you can try a utility like PhoneClean, which can reclaim some space , but that gets you only so far. For any kind of significant storage boost, you have little choice but to upgrade to a more capacious iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

Unknowingly to many, you do have one other option. A growing number of devices give you extra space for music, movies, photos, documents, and other data, and some of them are surprisingly affordable. How? With wireless card readers (also known as media hubs), which connect via Wi-Fi to your devices. So instead of popping a microSD card inside your iPhone or iPad (which, of course, is impossible), you pop one into an external drive you can keep stowed in a bag, pocket, etc.

Suppose, for example, you're taking a long trip. You want to bring along your entire music library, not just the handful of playlists that fit on your 16GB iPhone 5, and enough movies to last you through two or more long flights.

With one of these readers, you can stock, say, a 32GB SD card with more than enough songs and videos, while still leaving space on your Mini for apps and other stuff. And several models support USB flash drives as well.

Here's how most of these devices work:
Step 1: Connect the reader to your PC, then fill it with any and all media/data you want to bring along.
Step 2: Install the companion app that goes with the reader.
Step 3: Run the app, then connect to the reader. Now you can stream your media, view your photos, access your documents, transfer files, and so on.

One key feature to look for when shopping for a wireless reader is a pass through option, which allows your device to stay connected to a Wi-Fi network while simultaneously connected to the reader. Otherwise it's a huge hassle to disconnect and reconnect all the time.

IES currently offers two products that will help you with your storage needs:

The Iogear MediaShair Hub sells for only $99.95. It is no larger than a deck of cards, looks like a miniature router, and can double as a mobile access point. The MediaShair accommodates both SD cards (or microSD with an adapter) and USB drives. It works quite well with iOS devices, even if its app is a little clunky to use and not great as a music player. You can even top off your iPhone's battery by plugging directly into the MediaShair's USB port.

Our other option is the RAVPower FileHub 5-in-1, which sells for $74.95 and includes a larger battery than the MediaShair. It offers both Wi-Fi hot-spot and NAS features, and works with both SD or microSD cards, and USB drives.

In an ideal world, Apple devices would have expansion slots. Why pay monthly for cloud storage when all you need is a $75-$100 card reader and some inexpensive memory cards / flash drives?

Interested? Find out more about these two products using the links below:

Monday, May 5, 2014

BREAKING: Internet Explorer patch update now available.

Last Monday we notified you about the security issue with all versions of  IE (Internet Explorer).

Here is the updated information you need to have:
1. Microsoft has issued patches to resolve the issue.
2. Microsoft has also issued a patch for XP Users.

What Can You Do?
1. If you use XP, Vista and Windows 7 it is a 3 stage fix.
    A. Go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer and install the latest flash player.
        (Be sure to uncheck the box that includes additional free software).
    B. Go to http://get.adobe.com/shockwave and install the latest Shockwave.
    C. Go to your windows control panel and run Windows Update.

2. If you are running Windows 8, simply go to your windows control panel and run Windows Update to fix Internet Explorer.
We think that there will be more attempts at exploiting XP and we cannot guess what Microsoft may do next time. If you are still using XP we urge you to seriously consider updating.

Here is a quote directly from Microsoft:
“We have made the decision to issue a security update for Windows XP users,” writes Dustin C. Childs, group manager, response communications at Microsoft. “Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, and we continue to encourage customers to migrate to a modern operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8.1. Additionally, customers are encouraged to upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 11.”
If you have a question please give us a call at 781-816-9437.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Own a business? Here's why a professional website will be the best investment your business has ever made.

Hello, and welcome to the 21st century - the era of technology. If you own a business and don't have a website, you are significantly missing out on acquiring new customers. If you own a business and have a cheap, template driven site (example: Intuit, Homestead, FatCow, GoDaddy Website Builder, etc.), you are still missing out.

Why? Nearly all consumers - 97% - now use online media to shop locally. (This includes searches from computers, laptops, or mobile phones). I think it's safe to say the Yellow Pages have officially died.

So how would a website help? Well, it's all about exposure and being found on Google. A simple, cheap website builder usually does not accomplish that. Not only does your website need to be aesthetically pleasing, but you need title tag optimization, descriptive tag optimization, image description optimization, keyword optimization, and a large amount of content. That simply cannot be done using a template builder.

And let's not forget about the tax advantages! Usually, websites are 100% tax deductible business expenses. After all, it is a marketing expense. *Legal disclaimer: I am not an accountant, please consult your tax advisor.

So if you're ready to pull the trigger on a professional website, give IES a call or shoot us an email! We look forward to helping you build your business.

IES, Inc.

Monday, April 28, 2014

IMPORTANT SECURITY NOTICE: Stop using Internet Explorer immediately.

On Monday, April 28th, 2014, Microsoft released Security Advisory 2963983 regarding an issue that impacts Internet Explorer. At this time, we are only aware of limited, targeted attacks. This security issue allows remote code execution if users visit a malicious website with an affected browser. This would typically occur by an attacker convincing someone to click a link in an email or instant message.

Microsoft’s initial investigation has revealed that Enhanced Protected Mode, on by default for the modern browsing experience in Internet Explorer 10 and Internet Explorer 11 will help protect against this potential risk. Microsoft also encourages users to follow the “Protect Your Computer” guidance of enabling a firewall, applying all software updates and installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Additionally, everyone should exercise caution when visiting websites and avoid clicking suspicious links, or opening email messages from unfamiliar senders. Additional information can be found at www.microsoft.com/protect.

Here is the vital information you need to know:

1. All versions of IE 6 through 11 for Windows are affected.
2. No patch is available as of today (4/28/14)

What To Do:

1. Do not use Microsoft's Internet Explorer on any machine you may currently have.
2. Use an alternative browser such as Firefox.
3. When the patch is issued, it will NOT apply to XP users!
4. If you are an XP User, you should use an alternative browser from here on out.
5. Think seriously about upgrading or replacing those Windows XP machines.

With the end of support for Windows XP earlier this month, we believe this is just the first of many attacks that will be targeting Windows XP.

If you have a question please contact us.

IES, Inc.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Google Street View now lets you go back in time.

Every day, Google’s Street View cars capture massive amounts of data and the company then publishes them on Google Maps at regular intervals. Until now, the only images you could see on Google Maps were the latest images. Starting today, however, you will also be able to go back in time and see older images.

When you’re in the Street View interface, you will now see a small clock icon on the page. Once you click that, a preview image with a timeline underneath it will appear and allow you to see the older images.

It looks like Google’s Street View cars pass by most locations about twice per year. There is a bit of variation here, however, and some urban areas especially have more historical images available while some rural areas may have fewer. In many regions of the world, Google only started collecting this imagery in the last few years (it launched in the U.S. in 2007), so that may also limit the availability of historical images.


Google tells me this update is meant to be part of the company’s effort to “create a digital mirror and true record of the world.”

The update is going live globally today. For now, it will only be available in the desktop version of Google Maps and it is unclear if Google plans to bring this feature to other versions of Maps later.

Source: Tech Crunch

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A tip for a much stronger password.

Use a passphrase: a sentence you can remember. Then replace each word of the phrase with its initial, a similar digit or symbol, or, at random, use a whole word.

For example: My Dad Bob Yelled At My Idiot Brother
m d b y @ m ! b

The new password is mdby@m!b.

That may still be tough to remember. If you need to, write a reminder and hide the paper somewhere safe. But write the phrase or a hint, not the password.

Generally, if you have a strong password, you don't need to change it unless you suspect you've been hacked. But don't use the same one for different services.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Looking to purchase Google Glass? Here's your chance - today only!

Those of you who've been yearning to buy Google Glass now finally have your chance.

Today -- and today only -- any US resident with a US shipping address can buy the Google Glass Explorer Edition at the regular price of $1,500. Sorry, those of you outside the US are out of luck. But Google says it's working hard to bring Glass to other countries.

To grab your Glass, head over to Google's order page. Select your color. Choose a free accessory, such as frames or shades. Add more products to the mix if you wish, including earbuds, a charging kit, and a carrying case.

Prepare to spend $1,500 and then submit your order. Google promises to ship your Glass within 5 to 7 business days.

People with prescription glasses will need to buy the lenses for your Google Glass as a separate item.

Google announced the one-day sale last week, revealing that a limited number of US residents would be able to buy Google Glass for 24 hours starting at 6 a.m. PT on April 15. This marks the first time Google is offering Glass to anyone across the US without requiring a special invitation.

People outside the US interested in Google Glass can fill out a form on Google's Web site to stay abreast of the latest developments.

Those of you who've been eyeing Google Glass but are turned off by the $1,500 price tag may want to wait. Google has been prepping a less-expensive consumer version that reportedly will hit the market before the end of the year.

Source: CNET

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Heartbleed Exploit explained.

In the last few days there has been significant information in the press about the Heartbleed Exploit. One headline said that 66% of the Internet would be affected, another estimate said 500,000 websites.

Here is the information you need to have:

1. The exploit can only work on websites that use a particular type of security certificate.

2. Websites hosted by ACTSmart are not affected and are safe.

3. What can I do about it?
Answer: Not much, it is a server issue and all the major web hosting companies are applying a fix.

Here are a few articles on the exploit for your information:

Washington Post


Huffington Pos

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Meet Microsoft's version of Siri - Cortana.

Cortana is part of Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8.1 software, the mobile platform's first major update in 18 months. The "personal digital assistant," has the ability to search the Internet, set up alarms, shift calendar appointments, find restaurants, send messages, place calls and more.

Interacting with Cortana is very similar to using Apple's Siri. Push an on screen button, ask a question in a conversational manner, and Cortana will go to work.

Like Google Now, Cortana also has the ability to tap into apps and the phone's core services to deliver you contextual information. It can offer the weather where you're located, deliver favorite sports scores, or scan email and provide updates on a flight status or package delivery.

Cortana also has the ability to figure out what your habits are (when you wake up, when you're at work, what you frequently search for), and use that information to predict your next move.

Similar as it may be to Siri and Google Now, Cortana isn't a straight clone either. Unlike the other two services, Microsoft will not only allow third-party apps to utilize Cortana's service, either by controlling apps via voice or fetching data for predictive search.

But Cortana has one feature that its rivals don't: Cortana can actually push the results of its searches over to other apps.

One such example was using the Bing health tracker app. In a demonstration at Build, Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's Windows Phone design chief, used Cortana to search for the number of calories in a banana. When the results came back, he was presented with option to add the banana to Bing's health tracker as something he ate.

Source: CNN Money

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Finally, Microsoft has gotten the message! Windows 8 is soon to be more like Windows 7.

At its Build developers conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Microsoft announced a trio of new features for Windows 8.1 that had a decidedly "old-school" feel: First, Windows will get a bunch of tweaks that make it easier to use with a keyboard and mouse. Second, Microsoft announced that Windows 8-style "Modern" apps will run in a window in the traditional desktop interface. Third, the Start menu -- the ultimate signifier of "old" Windows -- is eventually coming back.

But the tweaks are less about Microsoft running away from its controversial Windows 8 redesign and more a concession that the company tried to transition traditional PC users over to the radically different design of Windows 8 too quickly.

And if anything, Microsoft's decision to cater to these unconvinced users isn't a step backwards -- it's a ploy to reel them in.

Despite the changes, Microsoft isn't phasing out or decreasing the presence of Windows 8's new design. In fact, these forthcoming features will actually make the Modern design more visible throughout the operating system.

It's a more gentle way of nudging the entrenched Windows 7, Vista and XP users towards change. And catering to these users could help jumpstart Microsoft's lagging ecosystem of Modern apps, which is lagging considerably behind iOS and Android.

One of the most revealing, big-picture moments of Microsoft's latest Windows announcements was that developers can now build a single app that runs on all three major Microsoft platforms - Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox.

Source: CNN Money