Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

It Could Happen To You…
March 22, 2007

Have you ever typed anything you didn’t want the whole world seeing?  I’m assuming all of us have at one time or another.  Unfortunately, anything we send via email can be seen by our boss, spouse, or even hackers.  Scary thought, huh?

Personally, I have sent a lot of stuff I didn’t want other people seeing.  It began when I was a young teenager gossiping with my girlfriends.  Of course, I didn’t want my mom seeing all that stuff I wrote about boys.  Shortly after, I started talking to the boys on the internet, too.  The last thing I wanted was for her to see my conversations with older boys.  Especially since the common questions asked were if you smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, smoked weed, did other drugs, ever had sex, etc.  Even though my answers were mostly “no,” my mom wouldn’t have liked seeing some of their answers.  But she couldn’t see my conversations or emails if I closed out of them, right?


There was always talk about how parents could somehow tap into your personal information and look at your conversations and emails.  Of course, if you were anything like me, you thought it was too far fetched and would never happen.  You would underestimate your parents and think they would have to be the most savvy computer gurus in town.  Au contraire…  


Now I understand why many people think identity theft could never happen to them.  Just like me, they aren’t willing to face the brutal facts of reality.  It is happening.  And it is happening more and more every day.  The total value of identity fraud in the US in 2006 was $56.6 billion.  The average fraud per person was $6,400.  It can happen and it can happen much more easily than most would think.

The internet has become the most common place for criminals to obtain other people’s personal information such as passwords and banking information.  It has been made easier than ever before.  Criminals can conduct false applications for loans and credit cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, and much more.  If the criminal goes to the extent of changing the victim’s address, the victim often won’t realize what is happening for months.  By this time, the victim’s credit, assets and reputation may be severely damaged.  The average time spent by victims resolving their problem is 600 hours.  That is almost one month, working around the clock, to fix their identity. 

To avoid this rising problem, take that extra step.  Buy a paper shredder for your pre-approved credit cards and other junk mail.  Make sure you are on a secure site when you provide your personal information.  Keep open eyes for anyone looking over your shoulder when you type your passwords when you are in public.  Be careful when saving passwords on your laptop incase it were to ever get stolen.  Simply, face the brutal facts.  It really does happen, and you could be next.      


Ready to shop?
March 9, 2007

Our guest “Internet Geek,” Bill Parker, told us a lot about the internet and the history behind it.  But what I found to be helpful was the information he provided about open source softwar and free shopping cart programs. is the world’s largest open source software development web site. provides a combination of news, original articles, downloadable resources, and community forums.  I was really interested to learn about the variety this site had to offer.  I found a variety of free shopping cart systems on this site. 


It was much simpler to use than I would have imagined.  All I had to do was type “shopping cart system” and press “search.”  The search provided 15,270 results.  It included each products results rank, relevance, activity, registration date, latest file date, and number of downloads.  It also provided a brief description and allowed you to download the system from there at no cost.


This is where I found Zen Cart, the shopping cart system that Bill Parker recommended.  Zen Cart truly is a free, user-friendly, open source shopping cart system.  Zen Cart puts the merchants and shoppers requirements first. Other programs are nearly impossible to install and use without an IT degree, but Zen Cart can be installed and set-up by anyone with the most basic web site building and computer skills.  Zen Cart is known for the variety of options, features, and support it offers. 


There are hundreds of shopping cart programs available, but none come close to offering to level of options, features and support available with Zen Cart.  Zen Cart has over 634,000 downloads and is continuously becoming more popular.  I think this is a great resource to be knowledgeable about when entering the business world.

Google – Don’t Be Evil
February 23, 2007

Last week, our guest speaker was Andrew Rodman, the “Google Guru.”  He provided us with a very informative class session, which I was disappointed to see end.  He showed us an exceptional amount of remotely simple information that most of us tend to overlook.  The first piece of information he provided that really made him my “Google Hero” was the simplicity of viewing a snapshot of each page as it looked when we indexed it.  For those of you without the computer savviness as myself, give this a try.  By holding Control and Print Screen (top right of the keyboard), you can copy the identical image you have on your entire screen.  To paste, simply right click and paste as you would typically do.


I really enjoyed how the class was completely hands on and provided us with a lot of information that can be used immediately to help us to better utilize the internet more efficiently and quickly.  For example, have you searched the internet for currency or metric conversion?  Each and every time I’ve ever used the internet for conversions when cooking, doing homework, I’ve spent at least ten minutes to find an accurate site that actually contains the information I’m looking for.  With Google, simply type 8 feet to meters and it’ll give you the answer immediately.  He also taught us a lot of quick techniques to use to scurry along our web surfing process.  I learned some helpful things from Andrew Rodman and was glad to have him as a guest.  




Really Simple Syndications
February 16, 2007

When I first heard about “RSS Feeds,” I felt like my mother.  Back in the day as a young lad, I felt especially computer savvy.  And I just couldn’t understand how my mother, a very smart woman, could be so incredibly computer illiterate.  “How can she not know how to sign on aol?” I wondered.  I was 10 years old and was able to do anything I could think of on the computer.  I couldn’t understand how my mom didn’t know that “jk” meant just kidding and that an “IM” was an instant message. 

            And then it happened.  “I really AM just like my mother,” I realized.  I slowly lost hold of technology.  Just as my mother didn’t know what an internet chat room was, I did not know what an RSS feed was.  Just as my mother had turned to me day after day regarding technological issues, I chose to turn to my younger, 18 year old sister, Carly.


I thought that Questioning Carly would be a great comparison for the relation between my mother’s case and mine.  I figured it would also inform me whether I was completely out of the loop, or if I just fell into the same issue as my mother.  Carly not only knew what an RSS feed was, but also used one.  She uses it for both school and personal information and interests.

After talking with my sister, I realized my hypothesis for myself was correct.  I am neither trendy nor tech savvy.  I tend to resist new technology in the beginning.  But why?  Does the technology go away?  Does it put itself on hold until I’m ready to adapt?  Obviously not.  I always adapt to the advances, but I’m always several steps behind.  The mp3 players, for example, became very popular, yet I was content with my portable CD player.  Once the hype continued growing, and they became more and more popular, I decided to give in.  To this day, I haven’t set aside the time, to learn to load songs on it.  My roommate did it for me once, therefore I have about 100 songs memorized.  I act as if this technology will soon go away, I won’t have to learn it, and then something completely new and non related will come out.  That is a huge mistake.  Technology is surrounding us, and doesn’t start at a novice level each time something new comes out.  It usually builds off the previous technological breakthrough.  So my advice to any of you would be to make technology part of you.  It will always be a huge part of your life. 


RSS feeds are such a great example of the magnificence of technology.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndications.  RSS feeds connect multiple internet sites such as email, news, weather, sports, and blogs to one centralized sight.  After the advice of both Dan Izzo and my sister, I tested the waters.  It is wonderful and incredibly time saving.  I’ve only played around with netvibes for a matter of moments, yet I already have a good grasp on the site. 


Whether it be general technology, specifically the internet, or even more targeted with speaking of RSS feeds, don’t lose your technological edge.