Too Much Information (TMI)

Too Much Information (TMI)

Are you guilty of putting Too Much Information (TMI) online? Probably, right? If you’re a human who has been online more than about 15 minutes, you probably are a little guilty of the occasional TMI moment.

Putting too much information online has been a time-honored tradition since the early days of the Internet. The Usenet groups and BBS systems of the good old days of the web were a boiling mass of TMI, and the blogs and social networks of today are no different. From stories about being dooced to YouTube videos about drunk people getting caught by others acting, well, like drunk people act… the Internet gives us many examples of what not to do. But people still keep giving the rest of us too much information.

Samples of TMI include:

  • Work:

    It’s not a good idea to talk trash about your boss, much less putting it online for the world to see. Avoid this TMI no-no and avoid waiting in line for your unemployment check.

  • Home:

    The last thing you want is for your spouse to know that you do, in fact, think that she looks fat in that dress. This TMI tip keeps you out of the dog house.

  • Friends:

    What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, and a TMI slip up getting back home just might force you to find a new best friend. Or maybe a new place to live.

  • Family:

    Venting online about people like your neighbor or your your Mother-In-Law on Facebook may seem like a good idea. Unless you forget that they follow you on Facebook, or that someone they’re close with follows you. Do that and you could have some awkward conversations in your near future.

  • Strangers:

    A potentially dangerous example of TMI is anything that tells people where you live or when you’re going somewhere on a trip. You may as well put a welcome sign out for crooks.

  • Personal:

    Possibly the worst kind of TMI, nobody wants to know about what happened in your bathroom or in your bedroom. Just don’t do it.

Keeping the aforementioned in your head and not on your blog or Facebook page will do wonders to keep your family, friends, and co-workers from being exposed to too much information.

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Antivirus Software – Your Helping Hand for Security.

Antivirus Software – Your Helping Hand for Security.

Using antivirus software is an important part of owning a computer. As a PC user and web surfer, you’re constantly faced with online threats, Internet security holes, and the spectre of viruses & spyware. Downloading and installing antivirus software is the best first line of defense for avoiding these problems.

Sure, decent antivirus software is going to cost you a little money, but it’s well worth the price. The money you spend on antivirus software is like the money you spend on oil changes for your car. You may not always see the benefit with your eyes, but it’s preventative maintenance that’s necessary to keep things running smoothly and costs you less in the long run. Better to pay $50 for antivirus software today that keeps you protected, than spending $200 or more to have your local computer geek fix things every time you’re hit with a virus of spyware.

Antivirus software does a lot for you behind the scenes and frees you from having to not only keep up with all of the latest virus and spyware trends, but also gives you peace of mind to know that whether you’re working or surfing, you’re safe from online threats. Benefits of a decent antivirus software solution are:

  • Virus protection:

    Any antivirus software worth its salt is going to help prevent a virus from wreaking havoc on your computer’s operating system, and if on a network, on any computer attached to it.

  • Infected email detection:

    Good antivirus software will provide a method of detecting and removing infected emails; a commonly used way to spread viruses and spyware.

  • Keeps important files safe:

    You’ve got pictures from your digital camera on your computer, don’t you? How about your taxes? The video of your wedding? Important emails? Sure you do. One good virus could wipe them all out. Or a nasty piece of spyware could transmit personally identifiable or financially-related information to a hacker somewhere.

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Exposed – Geolocation Dangers and You

Exposed – Geolocation Dangers and You

On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog.

You’ve heard that saying before, right? Well, nobody may know you’re a dog on the Internet, but through the magic of GPS-enabled gadgets, they may know where you’re located.

With today’s advances in technology and all of the swanky new things we can do with our gadgets, the dangers of geolocation are something many people don’t realize. Slowly but surely, more creeps and criminals are using technology to find victims, and GPS-enabled devices are helping them out in a big way.

Here are a few prime places where geolocation information can creep up, and why you don’t want it to show itself:

  • Your Cell Phone or Digital Camera:

    If possible, turn off any location-aware abilities, especially for pictures or any media that’s made publicly available. Exif information (which can include GPS data) can be included in pictures in some of the new/popular smartphones (iPhone and Android people, I’m talking to you), and that’s a prime example of geolocation danger waiting to happen.

    It’s not a big deal to geocode (e.g. add the GPS data) a picture you take in a store, or a restaurant, but if you’re hanging around the house or taking a picture of your kids at school, the last thing you want is to let strangers have the GPS location of those places.

  • Your Social Networks:

    Just say no to showing where you are. If you want to let people know how much fun you’re having someplace, do it after the fact. For example, if you’re going on vacation, don’t announce it on Facebook or Twitter before you go; wait until you’re back. The plus side is that you’ll be able to show off your pictures and videos, too.

    For the same reason you don’t want your geolocation revealed publicly to strangers through your pictures, you don’t want to do it on your social networks. Keep personally identifiable information safe from prying eyes.

By the way, the EFF has a great article and PDF download on living with, but not being hampered by, geolocation services and tools.

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Dangerous Tech Habits.

Dangerous Tech Habits.

Who would think that something as simple as texting would be a dangerous tech habit? Or uploading a photo? It may be a bit on the overly cautious side, but it’s true.

The relative ease with which we can make our daily life public is great. Thirty years ago we were still relying on long-distance phone calls and snail mail to keep in contact with friends and family, but now we’ve got gadgets and gizmos galore to help us out. Video conferencing, cell phone family plans, and photo sharing sites keep us in constant contact. Traditional long distance phone calls are becoming more a thing of the past and Internet-enabled devices are giving us more ways to connect.

The only down side is that no one is teaching us how to use these things safely. How do we know how far we should go? How much is too much? How can we keep our private information private while still exploring the web? These are questions you usually have to answer yourself. But we’ve come up with some quick tips on things to look out for when you’re out there.

  • Texting while driving:

    I almost feel silly writing this, but the fact is that plenty of people still haven’t figured out that texting while driving is crazy-dangerous. It’s so dangerous, in fact, that many cities are outlawing texting while driving. Pull over or wait until you are parked to send or read a message and keep yourself (and the others around you) safe while on the road.

  • Opening unexpected email attachments:

    It happens to the best of us, but this is particularly important if you like keeping your PC virus-free. Don’t open emails from anyone you don’t know, and only open/save/view files from friends when you know you’re expecting something.

  • Public geolocation announcements:

    Foursquare sure is fun, especially when you’re mayor of a location or you get a new badge. So is geotagging your pictures and putting them on Flickr for grandma to see. But be careful when you’re doing these things because if you have geotagging enabled, anyone who has access to your geo-aware services or websites may be able to see the location of your home, school, or office. That may be fine if you only allow friends and family access, but if you leave it open for everyone you may be giving more details than you mean to do. And the last thing you want is an unwelcome visitor coming over.

  • No backups:

    If you aren’t backing up your important files (taxes, family photos, legal documents, etc.) then you’re asking for trouble. DVD burners and external hard drives are pretty reasonably priced, so there’s no real excuse for it unless you like the danger of flirting with disaster.

  • Easy passwords:

    If you haven’t read our post “12 Tips for Making a Good Password.“, do it now. I’ll wait. Did you read it? Good. Now go change all of your passwords.

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Internet Facts (Take Them with a Grain of Salt)

Internet Facts (Take Them with a Grain of Salt)

The best thing about the Internet is that anyone can write anything on any topic and be heard around the world at the click of a button. Of course, that’s arguably also the worst thing about the Internet. :)

The “Wild West” nature of the web can make it challenging to find unbiased information on a variety of subjects. Your friends on Twitter say one thing, Facebook friends maybe another. And that guy on that forum? He thinks they’re both wacky. Add a few Google searches on top of it and who knows what to think?! That’s the Internet, for better or for worse. But at least we’ve got options, right?

If you’re having problems navigating through your research online, try a few of these ideas. They just might help you uncover a treasure trove of information.

  • Use multiple sources:

    Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket by only reading one website for information. Find 2, 3, maybe even 20 sources… whatever it takes to get as many angles as possible. From there you can make up your own mind based on everything you read.

  • Do offline research:

    Newspapers, trade magazines, encyclopedias; sometimes in our digital world we forget that reference books and periodicals exist. (Or dare we say, the library!) They may seem like a a dying breed, but you can still find them all around your town, and they’ve got lots of information you can use. And most of the time they’ve been edited, unlike the Internet. (Haha)

  • Ask an expert:

    Local colleges, professional organizations, and government offices usually have an information desk of some kind. If you’re looking for information on something in a particular field, see if you can find a human expert who will help you out, or at least point you in the right direction. It’s better than going it alone.

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