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Google recently launched its new “+1 Button”, a new feature on Google’s search results. Now let’s determine what the +1 button do and it’s similarities with others. The Google +1 button is a simple way of recommending a search result. You might want to share a perfect recipe that you found while searching the net or stumbled upon a wonderful site and you want to recommend it to your friends, the +1 button allows you to do this. The Google +1 button seems to be very familiar with other existing buttons in the internet. The +1 system works more like Like’s of Facebook or Digg’s of Digg. According to Google itself, the +1 button is the digital shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out”.
Now is Google going Social? We’ll the +1 button is definitely social but it’s not a social network. The Google +1 button is not going to replace Facebook like buttons. The +1 button adds a flavor of social in your searches since it allows you to publicly recommend something to your friends, contacts and others on the web. In some kind of way, it’s Google’s answer to its competition with Facebook. A representative from Google Jim Prosser was quoted saying “People consult their friends and contacts about decisions. It’s very easy and lightweight way to make search result more relevant.” People are also asking, will +1 button help their rankings in Google? As of the moment it’s doesn’t but Google is not rejecting the idea of incorporating it in some form at some point.
In order to use Google +1 button, a user must first have a public Google profile. You can create your Google profile here. Your Google profile also keeps a tab of all the +1’s you made making it a sort of bookmark for anything that you like on the net. You can show you +1’s tab to the world, or keep it private. Once you have logged in to your profile, your free to +1’s anything you love on the web and share it to your friends, contacts and others on the web.
To have you first experience with Google’s +1 button, you can test it here at this site. (http://www.google.com/experimental/). For those of who want to have the Google +1 button on their site, contact us. We will gladly help install it for you.
The recent devastation wrought by the flooding in Ipswich and Brisbane was a great tragedy, with loss of life, and many people losing their homes.
As a local business, based at Redbank Plains, we are looking for ways we can help the local community. We’ve been doing a lot of work helping local business owners setup temporary offices, replace equipment destroyed by flood waters and recover data from machines.
We’ve come up with a way we think we can help a lot of local families too. It’s estimated that over 600 homes were flooded in Goodna alone, so we think there are many families who will be starting from scratch.
We are collecting computers that people have replaced with new units, and plan to refurbish them, building them into complete working systems, which we can then give to families who have lost everything. A great friend of ours, Trevor Hold (freecollect.com.au) has offered us around 30 computers he has to kickstart the effort. We’ve got a few machines in the office we are adding to the collection, and from there, it’s over to you!
You can help by donating equipment you no longer need. We are after computers and monitors, and we’ll take them in any condition; Even non working machines may have a part we can use to get another one up and running.
We will also need some help identifying people who would benefit from a computer, so if you think you can help in this regard, please get in touch.
Contact Mathew Taylor, either via email – firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0419 688 266.
The team at Shift Computer Solutions would like to congratulate Luke Raison on winning the 2010 Shift Computer Solutions Excellent in Information Technology award at Redbank Plains State High School. Luke has been an outstanding pupil this year, and Mathew had great pleasure in presenting him with the award at tonight’s award ceremony.
We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the award winners on the acheivements, and thank the School for once again putting on a great awards evening.
The night was made very special by some stellar performances from the students. An excellent trumpet piece, several excellent band performances, and two stunning dance numbers punctuation a rewarding evening.
Many people take advantage of WiFi hotspots when they are on the move. Free services like the one at most McDonalds takeaways are very popular, allowing people to check their email, and update Facebook without an expensive 3G wireless plan.
The problem is, they are totally insecure, and allow anyone with a bit of skill to hack your computer and your online accounts.
Well, that’s the GOOD news.
Now, even complete morons can hack into your Facebook or other online services with the click of a mouse. As reported by Computer World, the firesheep plugin is an addon to the popular firefox browser that lets you hack other peoples accounts without more than a mouseclick.
Basically, you install Firesheep into your Firefox browser, head down to your local WiFi hotspot and connect to it, and then Firesheep will AUTOMATICALLY hack other users accounts for you.
So, if you don’t need to, you should not use these WiFi hotspots. If you do, try not to use them for things like Facebook or your internet banking. If you really must, then you should install HotSpot Shield, which will protect you and your data from the evil users of software like Firesheep.
PC World have a good writeup on Firesheep.
Chances are, if you haven’t already, you will soon be contacted by your bank to tell you about a wonderful new feature of their credit cards, called paywave. Basically, paywave lets you simply “wave” your card near the eftpos terminal, and your money is taken. No swiping, no pin number, no nothing.
The bank will tell you the system only works over very short distances, so there is no chance anyone will be able to steal your money. What they won’t tell you, is a similar technology, RFID, which is also supposed to only work over short distances, has been hacked to allow reading of data from kilometers away. Don’t fool yourself, organised criminals will have paywave readers as soon as lots of us have compatible cards in our wallets, and our money will not be safe.
The good news is that most banks will opt you out of the paywave system if you ask them, and send you a card that doesn’t have the paywave chip in it. I would recommend everyone opt out of this system as soon as your bank contacts you about it.
Ensuring your privacy is well protected when you use facebook is very very important. Most users assume that Facebook protects their information, and go ahead and post quite revealing and personal information and even photos of themselves, that they wouldn’t really like to be made available to the world at large.
The issue is even more important when children are involved. Most parents aren’t even checking what is going on with their kids on facebook, and in many cases, their kids are leaving themselves wide open for all sorts of abuse, from cyber bullying perpetrated by other kids, or attack by child predators that can easily locate the kids using the information on their Facebook profile.
Should I just delete my Facebook account?
No, I don’t believe you should. Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with more friends and family more often, and while I still think a good get together every so often is important in any relationship, I believe Facebook can be a great tool. If you are someone who just can’t be bothered logging in every so often to see whats going on, then by all means, delete your account. There is no point having it if you don’t want it, and you might as well take that final step.
If you decide this is for you, then after you have logged into facebook, visit the delete account page, and you can say goodbye to Facebook forever.
Where do I set my privacy settings?
UPDATE: Use this website; http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/facebook to check your privacy settings.
UPDATE: Good post from Mashable walking you through some common issues;
Take a look at the image I took from my own Facebook page; The account settings are currently at the top right of the page, and after you click, head down to PRIVACY SETTINGS.
You should go through all the different areas of facebook that are listed. There are quite a few, so this will take you a few minutes, but it’s well worth the trouble, as you will see that some of the settings are probably set to EVERYONE. You should change them all to a setting you are comfortable with; The default ones are;
- Everyone – The whole world will see it.
- Friends of Friends – Anyone your friends have made friends with on Facebook will see it. Do you know all of your friends friends? No, so this is almost as bad as “everyone”
- Friends – Only people you
- Customise – More on that next….
Can I have more control than that?
If you click on the FRIENDS link on the left side of your Facebook page, there will be a button at the top that says “CREATE A LIST”. Click that, and you can make a new list, and add specific friends to it. A good use of this would be to create a WORK list, and add your co-workers to the list. I have a “KIDS” list, so that all the younger people on my friends list can be separated out;
Then, when you go back to your privacy settings, you should choose the CUSTOMISE option. From here, you can go one of two ways;
First, you can choose friends (or groups of friends, if you have setup lists as we just talked about), and exclude them from seeing things the rest of your friends can see. Just add the list, or specific friends, to the “HIDE THIS FROM” list.
Alternatively, you can choose to set the main privacy to “SPECIFIC PEOPLE”, and then choose exactly which friends, or lists of friends, can see that part of your profile.
Using lists, rather than selecting specific people, makes organising this much easier; You just add new friends to the right list(s), and they automatically are restricted the way you want.
Facebook Photo Albums are tricky
You will want to check this from time to time, because Facebook sets your photo privacy separately for every photo album you have on Facebook. This can be a good thing, of course, because you can let everyone see your nice nature photography, but the drunken party pics of you in a nurses outfit can be restricted to your nearest and dearest friends only.
What about my kids Facebook use?
Personally, I don’t think kids younger than 16 should use Facebook at all. Most parents let their kids use facebook, however, so you will want to make sure your kids take some basic precautions. Here are the top tips I would suggest for your kids using facebook;
- Make sure ALL their privacy settings are set to FRIENDS ONLY
- Make sure they only “friend” people they have met in real life, and that the account really IS their friend.
- Make sure they NEVER “friend” a celebrity. Celebrities setup their Facebook PAGE, which is not the same as a user profile. You “LIKE” a page, and that’s fine. Where kids run into trouble is people setup fake profiles to get kids to “friend” them, and once they do, they can see all the kids personal information.
Further Reading (or watching)
- The Huffington Post have a good little video that will walk you through the top 5 important settings in a quick, 2 minute video.
- A nice video from Sophos going through the way the current privacy settings work.
- This guy has stuff he doesn’t want shared with anyone; I would suggest simply not putting that information into Facebook in the first place.
- Another video showing you through the privacy settings.
Something small business owners should know about, is the federal governments initiative called “Standard Business Reporting”. Turns out this plan was announced by the Howard government all the way back in 2006, and like so many government ideas, it’s taken quite a while for it to move foward;
The basics of the idea is to simplify and standardise the communications businesses have with government, so that business owners don’t end up reporting the same information multiple times to multiple government entities, improve and simply the way business owners authenticate and encrypt their communications with government, and the big ticket item, moving the communication into the software businesses already use, even going so far as to make the reporting just a simple by product of natural business processes.
Pretty loft ideals. Considering how badly these types of upgrades can go, such as the Customs ICS upgrades that have been causing headaches for years (as far back as 2005 that I could quickly find via google), one could be forgiven for thinking this will turn out to be a giant headache for business owners. However, if we assume that after 4 years of planning and development it will work as intended, here’s what we can look foward to;
Business software such as MYOB will be able to put together the information for goverment forms, and even submit the data directly to the government agency. One imagines the first roll out will include such tedious things as BAS and IAS statements, as well as PAYG summaries at the end of the year (for those businesses that employ staff). What would really help small business owners would be the inclusion of reporting payroll information to Centrelink and the Child Support Agency.
MYOB (the software we use to keep the books here at Shift Computer Solutions) has not implemented SBR, despite launching new versions of MYOB only last month. SBR is being launched on 1st July, and we hope that MYOB will release a point update then to allow submissions via SBR.
Another big ticket item is simplifying the way businesses authenticate themselves when they want to transmit data to government agencies. Called AUSkey, the new system will eventually be a single sign on for ALL government agencies, but initially, will replace the complex digital certificate system currently used by the ATO. Because of this, we expect nearly all small business owners to sign up for AUSkey immediately, as the ATO represents the biggest reporting burden. Despite all these changes being in the works for years already, however, ASIC and other agencies are not expected to be on board for another two years.
One great bit of news; Provided you use AUSkey at least once a year, it will never expire. Anyone who has had ATO digital certificates expire will know how wonderful this news is!
It is unclear exactly what AUSkey really is, but from what has been published so far, it seems it will be a software solution, which you install on your computer, or a USB stick or even on your business server. We will do a follow up article after AUSkey is launched to provide more details. The ATO is saying AUSkey will be available from the 27th April, so we don’t have long to wait.
News out that Apple will be releasing a new version of their iPhone software, version 4.0. There are some great new features coming when the software is rolled out in June, here’s a short list of the really exciting ones;
With iPhone 4.0, certain functions will be able to run in the background; For example, you might be listening to streaming internet radio through an app, now you can exit that app and do something else, and the streaming music will keep playing. GPS applications will be able to keep tracking your location while you check in with another app too.
Apple have done exactly the right thing by limiting full multitasking to those core functions that need it, while not letting everything do it. This way you won’t chew through your battery too quickly, and you aren’t likely to have the phone lockup or crash, which is a problem with other systems where full multitasking is running.
For applictions (like games, for example) that are not allowed to multitask, when you exit them their state will be saved, so when you go back, the app or game will be exactly where you left it. This is perfect for most apps as you can go back to where you left off (which is all you really do with most apps on a PC too), but while you are away, the app is not chewing up your phones battery and processing power.
Realising that apps are the big reason so many people are switching to the iPhone, Apple are making it easier to organise them with a folderu system in iPhone OS 4.0. Now you can group similar apps together in a folder. The first thing I’ll be doing when I get the update will be putting all my games into a folder, so I won’t have to troll through them all to find other apps.
The new OS will let applications send notifications internally, rather than just from an external server as it is now. This means, for example, you could be cooking a recipe using an app, which allows you to tell it when you put the food in the oven; Instead of you having to time it yourself, you could close the app and go do other stuff, and when the time is up, the app can notify you the food is ready. This will be great for apps that upload stuff to facebook, flickr and the like too, so you can close them and do something else while the data uploads, and the app can let you know when it’s done.
New Mail App
The Mail application has been ugpraded too, so now if you operate multiple email accounts, you can see all your email in a unified inbox. Another welcome addition is mutliple exchange accounts, something that we will be using extensively as soon as it’s available.
Not a big deal, but something a lot of people would like, is the ability to set a custom background image for the entire phone experience, not just the lock screen. Well, soon, you will be able to.
There are plenty of other minor adjustments and updates, and we think that iPhone OS 4.0 will ensure the iPhone is the lead smart phone for at least another year or so; If Apple manage to release another hardware update later this year, the competiton will have to do plenty to close the gap all over again.
UPDATE: Randy Abrams, Director of Technical Education over at ESET, is scathing of the way Google have rolled this out, and strongly suggests you disable both Buzz AND delete your google profile if you have one. We have instructions if you need them.
Today Google rolled out another service to add to its ever growing back of tricks, this one called Buzz. The folks over at Google are clearly running scared of companies like Twitter and Facebook, which to me is rather strange, as I don’t see either of them as a threat to Google.
Google Buzz integrates with Gmail (so as far as I know, if you aren’t a Gmail user, or don’t use it on the web, no buzz for you!), and shows up an option within the Gmail website interface.
Much like Facebook and Twitter, you can post status updates, and in the case of Google Buzz, by default those updates are fully public. You can choose to share the update with specific groups of people, but those people must be in your Gmail contacts, and you need to setup groups in that interface (much like you can already do in Facebook)
You can also share links and photos, the latter get uploaded to Picasa Web Albums. That all seems to be pretty standard, although it is very strange that Google didn’t include video sharing via Youtube as well.
But here’s the big risk factor; People know Twitter is fully public, and when they use it, they know what they say is out there for everyone to see. People also know that with Facebook, they can be more private, sharing only with their friends and family.
Google Buzz is anything but private; When you start using Buzz, it makes public the people you have emailed / chatted with the most. This alone could be highly embarrassing for people, who have always used their email as a private communications medium. You will also notice that things you do on other Google websites will suddenly start being shared on Google Buzz, and that too may be something you do not want.
My major concern here is that because Google have so many varied web properties and many people use a variety of them, now that they are tying them together and publishing publicly what you are up to on them, peoples privacy is likely to get seriously invaded until they take the time to go through and adjust a myriad of privacy options.
Add to this the story that some bloggers who were using a gmail account to interact anonymously with their audience have suddenly been outed by the new Buzz feature, and the problems with the sprawling mass of websites that Google has become is brought into focus.
If you have started using Buzz, you should definitely get over to the Google Profile that you will now have (that link will take you to yours if you have signed into Gmail) and go through the settings there; You can turn off some information such as your full name and your followers from being published publicly, and if you don’t put much information into it, Google don’t include it in search results.
I’ll be turning it off shortly, once I’ve had a good play with it; Twitter and Facebook are enough for me.