Save Hundreds of Dollars; DIY Smart Home with littleBits

You buy something today; tomorrow you never know! 

Technology gets outdated so thick and fast; It’s natural for people to sell the old ones for some cheap price when something new pops up. I was doing exactly the same. How much dollars I spent for a product doesn’t really come into picture, when a new technology hits the market. I do regret for the big purchases I made. It was loss by all the way.

And as a person who couldn’t resist for the new technology that’s out, I need some sort of balancing or else considering the income, I could easily become bankrupt. So I decided to prioritize the things which I really need.

Not just me, everyone wishes to hook up their devices to internet. The whole idea behind it is, smarter home. And you know how costly this whole home gadget movement could be, spending thousands of dollars on new air conditioners, refrigerators just to hook up to internet.

Of course you can go for it. But as I said, there are people who needs to balance things to move on with their life.

I was fortunate to learn the story of littleBits, who found answers for our worries.

Here’s the story!!

LittleBits helps to make old appliances work smarter just like our imaginations.

The New York-based company have worked out a Smart Home Kit, consisting of hardware components that you can snap together by using magnets. It’s really crazy I should say, it helps to control curtains to open at sunrise, control an old air conditioner remotely. Altogether, you can easily snap anything to internet using Smart Home Kit.

From robots to internet connected surfboards, they have more stuff on store. You don’t need to go after different smart products anymore, what you can do is reinvent the things which you already have. And hopefully, there is no need to sell old products for cheaper price anymore.

The kit includes 14 modules from temperature sensor, MP3 player to the cloudBit, infrared transmitter to wirelessly trigger AC switch or appliances like lamp. But I would say the highlight in the kit is littleBits Wifi bit that just hooks your device to the cloud. You can go to the littleBits website to purchase any of the components, you can get smart home kit for just 249$.

The whole story of littleBits is inspiring;

I quote the words of littleBits CEO Ayah Bdeir to Forbes here; “We wouldn’t be sitting here and just consuming whatever big companies make for us; there’s no reason to throw out your toaster or coffee maker”

 


I was surprised to see some of their smart home project ideas with the kit. Here is a list of the projects;

Bark Tracker: Setting up a text notification when your dog barks 50 times in an hour; it’s a kind of sound trigger, which lets you know something might be wrong.

Door monitor: Perfect for people who always forget to close the garage door.

Laundry Done Alert: Sends a text notification to your phone when your laundry washer and dryer completes their full cycle.

Smart home kit is littleBits third venture. Earlier in partnership with instrument maker Korg, a modular synthesizer kit was built by littleBits. They have also partnered with NASA for building a space kit called little Mars rover or mini satellite.

CEO Ayah Bdeir introducing littleBits in TED Talks

Bdeir’s actual words in an interview “We were very inspired by software community. Software started out where only expert’s at large companies could write it. Now anyone with a laptop can write software. In hardware, that hasn’t been the case.”

Started in 2011, they have created a setting to unleash our inner inventors. They have managed to sell millions of electronic components across the world. Now, they are attracting kids above the age of 8; littleBits could certainly turn out to be the the tool box for their first invention.

Will be writing on how littleBits attracts kids after my first invention.

Share if you have already created something using littleBits in the comments section.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Paper Recycling Machine PaperLab

Leading Printing manufacturer Epson announced,” Company is developing an in-office paper recycling machine.”

The developing machine unveiled at Tokyo Big Sight December 10 to 12 “Eco- Products 2015”. Hopefully, we will see it this year in our office.

What is Paper Lab?

Paper Lab is world`s first paper recycling machine that doesn`t use water. It uses dry fiber technology to recycle old printed paper and gives the recycled new paper with increased whiteness.

All old methods of recycling paper are the wet method. That requires a huge volume of water. And a great deal of efforts for preparation and maintenance of the water processing equipment.

Through research, some of the innovators have found dry method but all are not as efficient as Epson`s Paper Lab.

recycling machine paperlab

You can install a “paper recycling system” on your office backyard now.

Understand the potential of this innovation: Before we dive in, there`s one thing you need to understand about the amount of paper we use.
A research says:

    • U.S. publishing industries consume 16M tons of paper per year
    • Every year 2 billion books are produced in U.S.

Book publishing industry alone is responsible for 32M fallen trees. Combining newspaper and book industries, the number of fallen trees surpasses 125 Million.

See this visual Infographic here.

Simply paper consumption data questions our efforts for a Green earth.

One way of makeup for the loss is promoting Digital products. But I don`t see Digital gadgets can take the place of papers completely (but it has taken up to some extent) anywhere in near future.

Realizing these facts is important to help you understanding the necessity of paper recycling system.

Further the old methods of recycling require a great effort and energy. Plus the volume of water the process consumes is not reasonable for our world where half of the population don`t have water to drink.

Traditional Method of Recycling waste paper

The old methods of recycling often start from collecting waste paper from home and office.

recycling machine PaperLab

The collected papers are wrapped in tight bales at the recycling center and transported to a paper mill where it will be recycled into new paper.

In Paper mill the collected papers are stored in a warehouse until needed. When paper mill has sufficient stocks they moved waste paper using a conveyer belt to a big vat called pulper.

The pulper contains water and chemicals. Here the paper is chopped into tiny pieces and finally converted to fibers by heating the mixture.

After this the fiber is passed through various process:

    • Screening: Process of removing small contaminants from pulp (fiber).
    • Cleaning: An Intense process of removing contaminants where staples and lighter impurities are separated from the pulp by spinning the material in a cylinder.
    • Deinking: To remove printed ink and “stickies” such as glue residue and adhesives.
    • Refining, Bleaching and Color Stripping: These three process are for preparing the pulp for paper making.
    • Papermaking: The last step where the pulp is finally transformed into new paper.

 

I didn`t summarize all this process for enhancing your general knowledge. My purpose is to show the amount of man effort and more importantly volume of water requires in this entire process.

Typically the waste paper is mixed with water from the time the chopping process starts. Then cleaning, deinking, refining, bleaching, and striping all requires huge amount of water.

When pulp reached to final stages it is 99.5% watery. It is said that recycling one ton of paper saves 26,000L of water than producing. But how much water we use in recycling?

A century ago, Van Winkle (1914) reported that paper mills required 400,000 gallons of water per ton of recycled paper.

Now things have changed a lot but still paper recycling is a water based industry. And we need thousands of gallons per ton yet today.

A dry fiber technology is going to change the direction of paper recycling industry.

Back in 2010 Oriental, Co. Ltd. Introduced White Goat, a machine that converts office paper into toilet paper. It takes 30 minutes and 40 sheets of A4 office paper to create one roll of toilet paper and was claimed to save 60 cedar trees annually.

EPSON`s PaperLab claims to be unique in its kind. This is a compact office papermaking machine capable of producing new paper with enhanced whiteness.

 

How is PaperLab going to change the industry?

As the leading company in the printing world, Epson had to deal with paper used for its printing products. Keeping this in mind PaperLab is set to change the paper cycle. Idea of this product is to give new value to paper and stimulate recycling.

      • In-house office based system:With PaperLab in the backyard of office, the process involved with transporting the waste paper to papermaking facility is going to diminish. Now the paper making will be shorten and localize in the office itself.
recycling machine PaperLab

 

      • No more leakage of confidential documentsWith PaperLab onsite, company will not have to hire contractor for safely disposing the confidential documents. The machine will break down the documents into fiber before converting into new paper.

 

    • PaperLab means less wastage of waterThis is why PaperLab is unique. Generally it takes a cup of water to produce a single A4 size sheet. As water is a precious Global resources this is going to revolutionized the paper recycling industry.

Unlike White Goat, PaperLab start producing new sheet in about the three minutes after you hit the START button. The system can produce about 14 A4 sheets per minute and 6,720 sheets in an eight-hour day.

Dry Fiber Technology

Epson is promoting its product as in-house as well as dry method of paper recycling. Something that we have not seen as efficient before.

What is this Dry Fiber Technology?

According to Seiko Epson dry fiber technology has three separate process:

recycling machine paperLab

Fiberizing: Process of converting waste paper into long, thin cottony, fibers. As PaperLab is not using water, no plumbing facility is required. In this process only confidential files will be destroyed completely.

Binding: Process of adding different binders to increase binding strength or to whiteness of paper or to add color, fragrance, frame resistance and other properties.

Forming: Last process of producing new paper sheets. You can produce sheets of A4 or A3 office paper and even paper for business cards. You can control the density, thickness and size of paper.

In this entire process only a small amount of water is used to maintain the humidity inside the system.

No More Nightmares! Tips to Secure Password to be Safe Online

An article published in Forbes recently – Americans aren’t doing enough to protect their privacy online; left me thinking. Do I have a secure password?

I have to say, it’s utterly shocking to see the statistics. 98% of American consumers believe their passwords are safe enough. But a study by Avast, company specialized in Mobile and PC security shows only 6% out of them are safe.

And 69 % of the respondents fear hackers targeting their personal information most importantly. The fear is obvious, because another research says 74% percent of Americans have their nude photos leaked than their banking details. Of course, I came to know about these information from Forbes.

The entire statistics you can cover by reading the original article. In this article, I will try to give you insights on how to be safe online by creating a secure password.

So what should we really do? May be a password make over.

I meant to do it for myself anyway, as I was pretty sure I got a weak password by then.

Hackers!! This is not to challenge you by saying, I got a strong password. And by the way, there are no nude images in my online accounts.

Security expert’s states; “Passwords should be no less than sixteen characters with numbers, letters and symbols”.

It’s not an ideal choice for me and may be for you also, it’s hard to keep track of such long passwords. But at the same time don’t want to expose myself to the nightmares.

If you have not thought about your online account safety, I would say, it’s time to think.

Common mistakes that we make when creating passwords.

The most common passwords of 2014 for many web users ranges from “123456”, “password”, “12345”, “qwerty” to “football”. You are leaving it to hackers by creating passwords in this genre, they can just try the most common words and numbers to run you.

The importance of having a secure password: Look at this infographic by TeamsID

secure password infographic

I took this infographic as the base, to work on passwords.

Be safe and sound on online

It’s time to get rid of these common mistakes. I spoke to several experts from different fields from online reputation management to cybercrime. The tips, golden advice’s and the wealth of information gained from these conversations can surely help us to have a safer online experience.

Tips that will save you from a potential hacker

It’s important for us to protect our personal accounts and information. Here are the suggestions; to kick start the process we have to clean up our passwords and organize our online activities. A more secure password is an ideal choice to be safe online.

Different email account for different reasons:

Having four or five different email accounts: 1. Family and close friends, 2. Social media, 3. Public, 4. Banking, 5. Shopping. This can help you to protect your private information and better manage your online activities.

Different Passwords:

The worst thing to do is having same password for all your profiles. Suppose, if your one account is compromised, you don’t want to give a lead to take on your next account. Potential hacker on a field day can destroy your life, so ensure that you are using different passwords. You can only stop hacker by making things harder. Don’t let him run away.

Avoid personal clues when creating passwords:

Don’t mix up your passwords with date of birth, name, location, spouse name or any such personal information. These information are publicly available, which leaves clues and people can make a wild guess to crack your password. Also add hobbies, nickname into the list of personal clues.

Put some extra thought

To create a high quality password you need to include numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters. But it’s important to remember them. So instead of mixing these factors wildly, you can consider using control characters and non-English words. For example: use number for a letter, i.e. 1 for “i” or 0 for “o”. This way you will be able to remember your passwords easily.

For different accounts, you can consider making some changes to the prefix or suffix of your password, so that it’s not entirely different.

Refrain yourself from giving out passwords

To get help, people give out passwords. If it’s a must, then you have to, but you should change them as soon as possible. Don’t leave them message about your password, better make a call to give the password.  Some people prefer to make use of password managers to keep track of their passwords to keep them safe online. And many store their passwords in a location on their PC. If you are storing on your PC make sure that you have buried it well, use hide feature.

Give something fake

Often while creating email accounts, providers ask for security questions to help us out, in case if we have forgotten the password. This is where hackers turn successful most times, if they have not cleared the normal method. So, here we have to change the cards; fake everything here. Create your own question and give a fake answer. This will upset the hacker.

Try these methods to be safe online.

Got anything to add into the tips, share with us in the comments.

2 Minute Heartbreaking Christmas Advert, Make You Sob, I Swear

Couple of days back, I got stuck with an emotional Christmas advert released by Edeka, German supermarket chain. It has become an all-time favorite Christmas ad. The response from social media proves, it has melted many hearts already.

Look at some of the responses

German supermarket chain has virtually stolen the party of Man on the Moon advert put out by John Lewis, earlier on this November, which is already a hit.

Both the adverts used elderly loneliness into great effect and are heart-breaking. Subtitling Edeka advert for English-speaking audiences has opened up really.

Edeka advert is one step ahead at this moment, some people are claiming this as the most powerful Christmas ad.

The two minute drama features an old man as the central character, the whole plot gets unfolded with granddad, who graces the table as years pass by, well dressed and eating all alone.

How Edeka Christmas advert is melting hearts?

Granddad’s answer phone plays daughter’s message; “I just wanted to call and let you know that we can’t make it for Christmas this year” and the granddad is seen as looking at the Christmas card send by his daughter’s family. He places it on the mantelpiece.

The message concludes by saying, “We will try again next year. It will work out I promise. Merry Christmas daddy”. Finally the little voice “See you soon. Merry Christmas Grandpa”. And the phone’s out.

Then you will see granddad sitting alone in front of Christmas table as the years pass by, and family never visited the house.

Several months pass by, and his family receive news of their dad’s death. The entire family regrets the past, his daughter and her brother’s returns to their family home to give their last respect, everyone embraces each other with tears on their meeting after a long time.

But when everyone enters the home, the old man, who is actually alive, walks out slowly to the dining and says “How else could I have brought you all together?”

For a moment, everyone was stunned; daughter rans towards dad and hugs him tightly. And finally tears turns into joy and wide smiles.

And the long due Christmas celebration lightened up the home.

In many ways both the adverts are powerful, year after year we are hearing the story of elderly loneliness. Technology is a tool to stay connected, but the joy of being together is beyond comparison. Son or daughter is equally responsible for keeping their elderly parents happy and safe. To keep their face smiling as always, you need to spend time with them by sitting together.

If you have cried by seeing these Christmas advert’s, take an oath to see the feelings of your elderly dad or mom. Not just at the time of Christmas or New Year!

Love you Mom and Dad, I will be there for Christmas!! I am not sobbing..

Best Parental Control Guide:The Complete List of software

Hello, Readers!

In my last post, I covered a story around Cyberbullying. How Musseffect Los Angeles-based Dance Company is generating views for their video of inspirational stories of people healing and standing again on their feet.

Also about Rethink and Trisha Prabhu. We are thankful to her, she retweeted about this article on her twitter page.

parental control image 1

This post is about why parents should not hesitate to set parental control on kids and how to do that (that is more important because parents find themselves not so technically sound).

No doubt Child safety should be utmost priority for parents. Even if they have to be harsh sometimes.

We let our kids enjoy the freedom, let them climbing a tree, riding a bike, crossing the street and we progressively allow them surf web.

But sometimes web can be worse than the risks surrounds on other activities.

Here is why!

We have nasty websites out there.

You will never know with whom your child is communicating, what they are sharing (obviously you don`t want intruders to know that you are out for trip and house is empty).

In this online world communicating is not that easy then face to face. And your child can be a victim of too. Or at least alcoholic of Social media which will impact all round growth.

According to a research out of every 20 teens of generation X 16 are indulged in sexting and sharing their private photos online.

“They are going to be in their 20s, but their past isn`t going to spare them for adolescence.”

So what as a parent you should do?

Shall I spy on my child? Shall I ask for their passwords!

Muddling between thoughts.

What do you hear from every doctor you visit?

Prevention is better than cure.

This rule also holds well when it comes to protecting your child. You should not be reluctant in setting up some restriction. Monitoring their online presence. Talk with your children and tell them what to post and what not. Draw some boundaries.

Parenting is a tough job. And every parent needs help. There is software to keep an eye on teens. You can set up parental control over online watch, can limit how much time they spend online.

First let me tell you how you can set up parental control on computers.

Mac Machine:

You can restrict your kids from watching porn and can monitor their online activity.

 Go to Apple Menu

Choose system preferences and click on Accounts

Select your child Account

Hover to parental controls

You will be presented a series of preferences that you can block or monitor

Set your preferences

Windows Computer:

For Windows computer, parental controls can be accessed through the Control Panel. Look for User Accounts and Family Safety Control Panel. With Windows Vista, you’ll be given choices about web restrictions and also have the option of receiving reports on your child’s use of the computer. You can designate certain hours off-limits and block objectionable video games and programs.

These trick are not full proof because your kids are smarter than you. They will always found a way to change the settings or hack on your account. But you can always beat them by spending a little money on parental control software.

Parental control Software

“Desperate times desperate measures”

And parents are really desperate for keeping away their babies from bad habits. The built-in parental controls are insufficient as they can be easily hacked (no doubt gadget prince are smarter than us).

I asked my parents buddies what they are doing to keep an eye on teens. Got some interesting results on their practices and which software they are using for monitoring.

Not a surprise still most prefer freeware.

Here is a list of best parental control software. I am sure there are many out there and I will love to add them here. So ping me your best one in comments.

                      1. Free wares                                                   2. Paid wares

 

Free wares

K9 Web Protection

K9 Web Protection is a comprehensive web control and web filtering package. It allows to block sites according to their category pornography, drugs, hacking, gambling, hate sites and more. You can choose to block custom list of sites instantly or just choose the Monitor option, which allows to review the sites.

There are plenty of other option also- you can decide exactly at what time child can go online. NightGuard blocks online activities between 10 pm to 7 am. K9 is also associated with WebPulse cloud service a growing community who provide more than 6 billion web content ratings per day. And as soon as just one other user rates a site for phishing, spyware or malware, K9 Web Protection will immediately block it for everyone else, so helping you avoid even the very latest scams and threats.

Norton Family Safety

Norton Family Safety developed by Symantec Corporation provides some extraordinary feature. It provides

  • Web supervision
  • Social Network Supervision
  • Search Supervision
  • PC time supervision

Parents can see what kids are searching online, whom they are hanging out on Social media and even set time limits for how long their offspring use PC. Their Basic version is free, but you can have more control with the premium version.

Spyrix Free Keylogger

Spyrix Free Keylogger is a different way of monitoring your children. It is more a spy software than control. You can completely track your children activities. It allows to see keyboard entries, screenshots, webcam snapshots, sound recording, webcam video, clipboard value, web pages visited, and search queries.

The program keeps running in the background. Hiding the program is limited to press the close button which you can recover by a password. Only paid version allows to completely hide the wizard.

Paid Wares

Qustodio Parental Control 2015

Qustodio Parental Control 2015 can track your children`s online activity On PC, Mac, iOS, Android or Kindle devices. It includes just about every feature you might want. All the configuration and monitoring is managed through an Online dashboard that you can access from anywhere you want.

Qustodio default setting blocks websites matching any of ten categories which includes Gambling, Pornography, and Drugs. Advanced 19 categories are also available for parents who wants greater control. Alternatively you can activate email alert option whenever a child hits such undesirable sites (Useful for older kids). This payware can block secure (HTTPS) websites if they match a banned category.

McAfee Family protection

McAfee Family protection by McAfee can protect your kid from exposure to inappropriate content, social networking risks, strangers and other threats. You can block objectionable sites in up to 35 categories. Plus point is blocking of these sites are browser independent, so your child can`t access those sites by finding a less known browser.

The programs enable monitoring social activity by recording personal information whenever a sexually explicit content is posted. It blocks file sharing programs to prevent sharing nude or semi-nude photos. It can also block HTTPS sites which are having insecure content. Also, you can limit the time of your child spending on PC.

iBoss Home Parental control Router/ firewall

iBoss Home Parental control Router/ firewall is a hardware based parental control protects every device connected laptops, desktops, cellphones, tablets and gaming devices. Like others, it also allows to block inappropriate sites, can manage time spent on chat, instant messages, and gaming by the child.

It can allow to set predefined schedules for internet access by users. Prevents file downloads, viruses, spyware and malicious content from infecting your children`s computer. Additionally it allows to set different filtering rules for different family member computers.

That’s it for today. Keep on mind that any protection is incomplete. The world out there is filled with beauty and ugliness. And some predators may succeed in their ugly intention.

Best you can do is “Start the conversation with the child early and let the conversation going.”

2 of the Most Smartest Home Security Gadgets to Have

Give away to these two smartest home security gadgets – Deadbolt locks and Security cameras. Your home will be much safer with it.

My previous article – Keeping your home safe from burglars emphasized on fixing small things at first. And the additional aid of technology that adds more value to it. In this article, I will show you how to protect your front door in particular.

It’s true that some silly tricks might save your ass from burglars. Yes, something like “My scary dog can run faster than you” board would be enough, even if you don’t have a real dog. But there is no offense in adding technology to your #homesafety strategy, it makes more sense.

Would you mind a deadbolt lock making way for your lousy locks?

I wouldn’t.

Considering 70 percent burglars break in through doors, out of which above 30 percent use front door. Don’t you think it’s trivial to protect the exterior entries?

This thought has paved the way for smart locks to home security system. Yale Keyless Deadbolt is something which I came across that will just fit our life style. It just not enhances the security of your exterior doors, allows you to control locks remotely as well.

Yale Deadbolt stands out with its sleek design. The keyless lock is available in three varieties – polished bronze, satin nickel and oil rubbed bronze, which will be perfect to match with your door style. Installing a deadbolt lock on your door is not overly futuristic rather it’s realistic, as it doesn’t intervene the modern technology. But it proves to be a home automation tool.

The touch screen is similar to that in smartphone screen, it’s responsive. Reviewers claim “touch screen is too sensitive”. And from now on, you can forget having multiple keys to your door. In fact rather than using a key to lock or unlock your door, you can have your own user code attached to the door.

Yale lock allows up to 100 user codes. But you don’t need to have them all. Do you?

But, it’s a great add on, if you have close family members or friends; you won’t mind him/her to stay at your home.

But not necessarily you have people so close, then you can have guest user code. You can delete it after their stay.

Another addition is the auto re-lock function by using a one touch button, which you can enable or disable. It’s a great addition in fact, especially when you have people who often forgets to lock the front door.

I am not done yet with the benefits!

Finally!!  Inbuilt alarm, which sounds if someone tampers the Yale lock in attempt to open the door.

Edge of Yale Keyless Deadbolt over other home security gadgets:

Home security gadgets
Image Credit: yale2you.com

When there are so many smart locks on the market, why Yale Deadbolt?

The best part of Yale Keyless Deadbolt is its compatibility with multiple home automation systems and that really sets it apart from the competition. Yale Deadbolt can seamlessly integrate with any product or home automation control system. The whole task is cut out, you can manage the home security quite easily.

Moreover the Yale deadbolt lock doesn’t use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth unlike other smart locks. You don’t need an internet connection even. This can be considered as a blessing or a curse. The downside is you cannot use smartphone to control your deadbolt because Yale don’t have an app to do that.

What you can do is, add the Yale deadbolt to your home automation network or get a compatible device that allows to control it. This is definitely a flipside of not using an internet connection, it’s a burden but once you set up everything, you can track everything using a centralized controller.

Yale deadbolt is priced more on the expensive side when you compare smart locks available on the market. If you want to go lower on budget, you can consider having a look at Sclage’s smart lock or the Touch Camelot Lock, which is far cheaper.

Yale Keyless Deadbolt is definitely a great security measure for your front door. In these days, every security system providers include smart locks into their home automation kit. These locks are synched to your home security system, which you can easily control using smartphone or laptop using the apps specifically made for it.

 

 

 

Catch if someone enter your premises!

Lock with remote control and alarm functionality looks all fine, but it doesn’t tell you if someone enters your premises. Investing on home surveillance camera would deter if someone actually approaches your front door.

Installing outdoor home security cameras offers lot of benefits. You can have wired or wireless outdoor cameras.

Check out this video to know, how home security cameras work?

My pick is wireless outdoor camera!

You know why?

They are getting popular on each passing day.

Really!! But that’s not a reason.

It’s simple, they are very easy to install unlike the wired ones. And also burglars don’t have the option to cut wires anymore. May be they can try their luck by targeting camera.

Frontpoint® wireless outdoor cameras is one of the popular home security gadgets. It is priced around 400$, you can have a 30 day risk free trial and it also covers three year warranty. But camera is designed to work with Frontpoint home security system. To get the benefits you will have to subscribe to Frontpoint’s ultimate monitoring plan which costs around 44.99$ per month.

Home Security Gadgets
Image Credit: frontpointsecurity.com

How it works?

The camera works along with the company’s mobile application. Users can access it via smartphone, tablet or phone to get access to the video footage. The highlight factor is, camera starts the recording process the moment any motion is detected. The system then alert the owner by sending a text message or email. Users can watch it from anywhere using any mobile device. This is not something which comes along with all security cameras. I hope you can figure out why it is so popular now.

You may find alternate choices to protect your front door from intruders. Make use of these home security gadgets to the most for ensuring your home safety. Don’t wait for more, you never know who’s watching you.

I would certainly like to hear from you, share your home security gadgets in the comments.

4 Most Powerful Advice on Internet Safety You Should not Avoid

Over the years, Internet has changed from just sending mail to a mass broadcasting media. Internet revolutionized the way we communicate, the way we connect and the way we work. We`ve never been so connected to the world before. People are closer now.

On the other hand it makes you, your family more vulnerable. You are exposed to everyone. Anyone can find you sitting in a couch miles away. They can see what you are doing, where you are hanging out, where you shop, your personal likings… everything.

The funny part is you only allow them to see your personal lives. By sharing photos, by making statements, by documenting your personal information online. You leave footprints online which can be easily tracked back to determine your personality and behavior. Your online presence defines you.

My goal with this post is not to completely detail ins and outs of Internet, but to give you a glimpse what you do with the internet can impact your life sooner or later. Let me draw some boundaries here. Let me set rules on internet safety.

Ultimately I`d love to hear back from someone who read this post and put something into action on his own life.

Here we go!

You are not safe

Let`s talk some statics.

According to FBI

  • 269,422 online crime complaints received on 2014 on their Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • Out of which 47.95% were female respondents.
  • The majority of complainant were on the age group of 40-59.
  • 51% under 20 age.
  • Passing trend had shown growing trends on

Auto fraud, government impersonation Email- scam, online intimidation/ extortion Scam, and Confidence/ Romance Fraud.

Feeling terrible!

I have not mentioned child cruelty, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking through the internet yet.

That’s a whole different story.

Advice I got on Internet safety from the Big guns

 I asked experts of Industries about their opinion on staying safe in this digital world. How can an average person avoid threats from the internet still don`t miss the hits of World Wide Web?

Different Password for Different Accounts

 

Internet safety
Image credits: Business Insider

More than 200 social accounts, millions of sites and then your Bank accounts… And every account is linked with a password. That’s a huge pressure on our tiny brains. Memorizing them all! Forget it.

It might be tough to remember all those passwords, but it protect us from dangerous scams. One single password for all puts unnecessary risk to all your accounts (including your online transaction stuff). By any means if someone get access to one password, he/ she can get them all.

“Instead use password managers to manage your password list.”

For Online Transaction use Two-Factor Authentication

If it is a transaction! Use two-factor authentication.

Two Factor Authentication (2FA) is a way of securing your access to any portal by providing two means of identification.

For example, Google provides two way of Authentication process for Gmail accounts. Password and user id plus a token code that is texted to your mobile.

When you use online services like PayPal, internet banking for the transaction of money it becomes even more important.

Suspicious Email, Throw it out

Emails asking a short-term loan from Nigerian Prince with a promise of double profit is one of the examples of suspicious Emails. Don`t fall for such Emails.

Here`s a short description of how suspicious emails look like.

      • Emails from strangers asking to click on a link or open attachment. If you don`t know what is it about never go for it. And do not open a .exe attachment.
      • Spoof emails asking for your personal information or asking money for a job are conjured for scams. This is called phishing. If you get an email from someone like a bank, eBay or PayPal, saying there is a problem with your account, forward it to the company in question to get confirmation it’s from them. Never do that most companies never ask for your passwords.
      • Even emails from your friends can be a spam to trick you. This happens when hackers got on your friends account and use that account to leverage their friends.

Use your wit and sense to spot a fake mail. Nationwide Bank has good documents on phishing and emails scam.

Be Online Savvy

Be careful what you post online. Because whatever you post are out to see for the public. Never post your personal details, bank account details, and any other confidential information.

You don`t want to know a burglar that you are on a holiday and your house is empty. Also, you might not want your indecent posts to be seen by the employer. So be savvy, aware and decent online civilian.

Did you find some useful savvy tips here? I bet this advice will leave hackers clueless. This might seem basic stuff, but simply implementing this tips in your life you can escape from jaws of devils.

And I will love to hear from you if some of these tips hit you or have something more to say. Keep updating me and I will come back and make it a bible for ditching online crimes.

Super Familiar Ways of Deterring Burglars But…?

Majority of burglars enter through the front door, it’s a fact. But what we do about it. Getting good deadbolt locks on our doors? Do you think, it will resist if they decide to break in. I am not sure whether it will secure your home from burglars; but I totally agree that there is some sort of satisfaction and relief when we got that deadbolt locks on all our doors, strong latches on windows and also a terrifying barky dog.

So, here’s the question; Are we safe with deadbolt locks on doors, windows with strong latches and of course the dog? If you have “Yes” as an answer, extra credit goes to your dog, I would say. As you believe home is secured enough.

Here’s another fact; most burglars enter homes by walking through unlocked doors and windows or by kicking locked ones until it gets opened. So the point is – just by following the basic measures, you can improve home security.

Considering the financial, physical and psychological damage caused by such a crime, it adds to the sense of taking actions to ensure more security.

The basic practices of home safety are overruled by technology these days. For millions of people around the world, they would rather give high preference to an alarm system and security cameras in their home security strategy than any of the simplest measures. And we have to give it to technology, as there is much evidence that deploying such systems make a huge difference in deterring burglaries. Smarter homes – the perfect slogan to secure your home from burglars these days.

Do we need an alarm system in place?

There is no denying, alarm system is a powerful weapon against burglary. Not just that, it can help to prevent fire damage, some systems also alert power outages, water leaks and other issues.

An effective burglar alarm system depends on various factors like the design of alarm system, installation quality, how you have secured the perimeter of house, how often do you activate it.

But the first priority of owners should be about improving the physical barriers. Alarms and other security systems can act as add-on protection system against intrusion.

There is another aspect as well when you live with an alarm system, many homeowners don’t use it regularly for the same reason. You know why? False alarms, it’s not just inconvenient for people, it also drives fear along with that. As per various estimates, it is believed that about 80 to 90 percent of alarm alerts are false.

Anyhow these differences are not taking away the credits of alarm system. It’s still intact and highly preferred by people. A basic alarm protection system covers all exterior doors and windows that can be targeted by intruders. The system activates a siren or notifies the central monitoring station.

Earlier the whole idea of smarter home was kind of a luxury, now it is more like a necessity. Technology has brought down the cost involved in home security systems and surveillance cameras as well. Now there are many low-cost tech solutions that cost very little, you can install it to safeguard your home from intruders.

“Most burglars are just opportunist” says owner of Hollowtec.com; Martin Holloway, security expert in Louisiana. So having a rudimentary system that makes some noise can scare away a burglar from entering the house.

Basic measures that helps to secure your home from burglars:

Home security strategies are not always that costly, in fact some of the effective ones doesn’t cost you a penny or may be very little.

Insurance: You can consider having an additional replacement coverage to your personal property through insurance schemes. So, in case if burglars clean out everything, this coverage can save you big time. If you are using standard policies for expensive items in your home then you can better move on to additional policies to get everything covered.

Get ID’s to your items: Experts recommend to take part in Operation Identification, this engraves an ID number to your valuable items. It helps to identify your stuff.

Don’t make it easy to spot your valuable items: Keep in mind, you have to open your front door to strangers as well like pizza delivery guy, canvassers, salesman, etc. It’s important to place things of ostensible value out of sight of anyone who is at front door and the same way strangers from street who is looking through your front windows.

Build relationship with neighbors: It’s important to know your neighbors. If you are planning for a vacation, you can inform them, they can look out for suspicious activities. It’s one of the most effective ways to protect your home.

Keep appearances when everyone is out: Burglars strikes mostly when no one is home, always make sure your house appears occupied in front of strangers. You can leave lights or TV on. Or else get a fake TV to fool thieves. If you are going for a vacation, take help from neighbors to prevent mails or packages piling up on your lawn.

Always check on your landscaping: Intruders target bushes and trees to invade the unseen on your home. If you have doors and windows hidden by bushes, have a check on it.

Light up: Light connected to a motion detector can secure your home from burglars, as they flee when outdoor lights are activated.

Don’t misplace keys: Handing over keys to a stranger is the last thing you want to do, it may not cost you every time. But you don’t want to take a chance, do you?

Getting a dog: Burglars don’t like fury family members, they know a noisy person outside will harm their business.

secure your home burglars - warning message

Avoid vulnerabilities: Intruders target vulnerable spot on your home to break in, may be a poorly secured door or windows. Never leave a chance, prevent the possibility of penetration by securing all spots. Not always they target vulnerable spots, unlocked doors or windows many have the skill to open locked doors and windows silently. They just break a pane of glass to reach in and unlock door or windows.

Get rid of lousy locks: Knob locks is old practice and inadequate to have. Make sure doors are installed with deadbolt locks, especially your exterior doors.

Check the locks of sliding glass doors: Locks installed on sliding glass doors can become dangerous at times. Many doors can easily be lifted from the tracks. Don’t mind paying a good lock smith to ensure the doors are safe enough.

Install solid doors and windows: To improve security, it’s important to replace your weak doors and windows. Solid wood door is a better choice than hollow doors, installing a metal door is also fine. Securing windows depends on its type, to increase protection you can consider having unbreakable steel bars across windows.

Hiding valuables: Ensure expensive jewelry and other valuables are stacked in the most unlikely places – may be along with the books or paper files.

Little measures can help you to reduce the chance of burglary in your home. If you could incorporate technology to your #HomeSafety strategy it would be great too.

Make sure you have combined these little measures with technology to secure your home from burglars and stay safe!

Do you wish to add anything more into it? Share it in the comments.

Stand Against Cyberbullying With Tech

 I have grown as a disturbed child.

In my 8th grade I stopped being social, was not talking to my friends, dropped out from school and my world ended inside the concrete walls.

My Grandma was pretty much worried. I was raised by her, but never was comfortable talking to her. One day she took me to school and she sat with me till dawn.

That was the end of my deprive life. I never felt horrible again before them.

You should not be surprised how I survived through that mental trauma, self-depriving, humiliating years. My grandma became courage for me. Seeing an old lady who strolls doing so much for me so that I can go school gave that courage.

That doesn`t mean they stopped. Only the frequency was less this time, which faded away over the years.

That was the year of the eighties. What we call bullying today was a child`s play that time. But the ugly face of bullying was yet to come.

Now bullying has come out of class, streets and open for all on computer screens. This is worse than ever. Now bullies get a global audience. And psychopaths really enjoy the other`s agony, depression and they love to laugh at other`s embarrassing situations.

I don`t know whether the Internet has made our life easier or it has become a weapon to bullies. We have seen shaming others by Facebook posts, tweets, and embarrassing YouTube videos. Sexting, posting nude photos are common cases that we see every day.  Who are victims? Our kids.

And who is Offenders. Maybe our kids only or Adults.

Not taking the right steps is adult’s mistake. Not educating the child about cyberbullying and how to behave online that’s where we are lacking.

I am not denying the fact that we have made outstanding efforts against Cyber Bullying (Its`s just a start we need to do more).

Los Angeles-based non-profit dance company MusEffect achieved the milestone in spreading awareness against Cyber Bullying.

Their Public Service Announcement -953K  Inspiring Action Against Cyberbullying generated over 1.2 million views and inspirational stories of healing and resolution from audiences across the globe.

Isn`t it inspiring?

At the beginning, I told my story. I have been thinking all these years what I can do to stop this unkind act.

Spreading awareness with the help of tech.

Technology and Social Media misunderstood as the culprit of Cyber Bullying. But few know that tech can be the greatest weapon against what bullies see as funny. There are millions of stories around the world.

Tech is against Cyberbullying.

If not consider about these:

ReThink  an anti-Cyberbullying software.

What you can do after bullied- Blocking the bully or reporting the abuse to adults or school authorities/law enforcement. But when already damage is done, only suffering begins. And we can`t deny that only one out of ten cyberbullied kids take a stand against it.  Rest suffers silently.

Rethink founder Trisha Prabhu says, “Not much can be done after bullying”. ReThink is a software that stops cyberbullying before damage is done. It helps to train teens making better decisions on Social Media. ReThink alerts teens whenever they think of posting something that they should not. They are forced to rethink and review before posting that message.

Did I say she is only fifteen a teen herself? A fine example of Teens against cyberbullying.

Rethink before cyberbullying someone
Rethink Founder- Trisha Prabhu

Cyber bullying can be anything. Posting vulgar messages about someone, threatening someone, sexting, posting nude or semi-nude photos… Often the person we choose to trust turns out a Bully.

Cyberbullying.org research center conducted a research. And asked hundreds of groups of students how many of them know any of their friend`s social account passwords. Surprisingly, most of them said “Yes”.

Passwords are for keeping secret (hope at least we adults do). But adolescence is like a car without brakes. They do without thinking much. They put themselves at risk of cyberbullying, identity theft or other dangers of sharing and exposing passwords to their friends.

Some people might not do it. But some of us prefer to keep it on sticky notes, spreadsheets after all it is hard to remember all of them. The point is, it might reveal to someone who can take advantage.

Do you know Tech can help you with that? One effective solution is Password Management Software. I have listed a few of them below.

Note: I am not affiliated with any of them. I genuinely want to help you. Please verify by yourself before purchasing.

On my last savior list is having a custom reporting systems in schools.

Schools are the key against cyberbullying. School administrations should be aware of commercial services which allow for anonymous reporting of bullying on the school website or school linked forums. This is pretty much helpful for students who feel ashamed reporting to school administration in person.

But many school administrations are reluctant to adopt it as this commercial services are expensive.

Anyway, there is an alternative for that. They can provide a similar kind of facility through Google Voice for free.

School administration can set up one Google Voice account created through a phone number which will be shared through students as a report line. The system distributes the student’s voicemails and texts to school authorities. School personnel have to download the Google Voice App to their Smartphone. Once the App is set to go the concerned person can respond to victims complaints. I am not saying victim’s identity will be entirely secretive as their phone number will be exposed. School Administration should adopt entirely professional approach regarding this.

Cyberbullying is a sensitive issue. Victims often shy away. But we need to understand their psychology. Do not blame emerging technologies and social media. We have to find out the solution within the resources we have. You can`t stop innovations, but you can stop Bullying.

5 Safety Apps Every Women Should Have

“I feel scared to walk alone in the city. At times absolutely terrified or nervous. May be I am paranoid, or too cautious. The city is not safe for women these days”, says 17 year old.

She lives in Chicago and every evening she walks with “911” punched in her keypad, hovering over the “send” button. And depending on how safe the surroundings are, she prepares her defense – a portable pepper spray, or call to mom.

The fear is predictable. World is not safe. And if you are a women, it gets even worse.

And the fear she was talking about is our concern too. Mom, sister or girlfriend – we do have people to worry about!

The #YesAllWomen campaign on twitter is just a reminder of how unsafe women are; abuse, rape, violence still prevalent in almost all parts of the world.


“Sharing knowledge is the best way to offer a helping hand to affected people around the world”

I intend to do exactly the same by reaching you!!

I believe, last one and half decades we have seen more innovations than ever. Technology is advancing faster and so do our ability to dream. We have been figuring out the ways to get connected. Say it all; blogging, liking, tweeting, sharing, creating and consuming content. All of these are good, but personal safety in particular has always been an afterthought.

Personal safety – An afterthought!

Seriously, you wouldn’t be much worried about personal safety otherwise.

To help yourself; Here’s a list of 5 safety apps every women should have

If you are in trouble while moving, you can have any of these personal safety apps on your phone. It can reduce risk and bring assistance when you are in need of it. Most of these apps were originally developed to help students out of sexual assault, eventually they turned out to be a real life saver for all women.

1. Circle of 6

circle of 6

Image Courtesy: Circle of 6

Available as free version on iPhone

This is a must-have app, if you are an iPhone user. Circle of 6 offers an easy to use system to alert your friends, when you are threatened by someone or in trouble. To get the full benefits of this app, you can subscribe to a monthly or yearly plan.

Benefits – unobtrusive screen allows easy operation; two taps will send a text message out of the three prefixed ones to 6 contacts of your choice, which includes a call too.

It automatically attaches an address and a map of your current location for getting help to take you home safely or request for a phone call from your phone to help you out from trouble.

Circle of 6 also contains pre-programmed national helpline numbers in addition to a local contact, which you can customize to police or 911. Circle of 6 is the winner of “Apps against Abuse” challenge conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

2. Hollaback!

hollaback

Image Courtesy: Hollaback

Available for free on iPhone and Android

The tag line of this app is “You have the power to end street harassment”. A hit back at the perpetrators, one at a time. It allows the user to take and upload a photo of the harasser, they can submit their story to ihollaback.org.

The image of the perpetrator will be shared and posted on street harassment prevention website. This will warn others about the areas were street harassment is prevalent.

Hollaback points out “street harassment is a gateway crime that makes other forms of gender based violence”. You can submit stories at every level from groping hands on crowded buses, catcalls from strangers.

It is estimated that 80 to 90% of women are getting harassed in public. It is something which we have to seriously think about. Hollaback is also part of an international movement, their local organizations are working in major cities over 18 countries to stop harassment.

3. bSafe

bsafe

Image Courtesy: bsafe

Available as free and subscribed versions on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry

“Never walk alone” is the slogan of bSafe. This personal safety app sends an emergency message to the contacts you have set with a single button.

The free version of this app also allows the person you designate to respond to your text message. You can assign a person to receive a call. The text message at the receiver’s side include a link to show your location via GPS. You can even program a fake incoming call with as many as 6 options to decide when the call have to be initiated (immediately, 5 sec, 15 sec, 1 min, 5 min, and 10 min)

The idea was developed and conceived by Silje Vallestad, a mom who wanted to keep her kids safe. She had knowledge about the industry, but figured it out and won a business plan competition. And the money, she took it to develop bSafe.

4. Guardly

guardly

Image Courtesy: Guardly

Free and Subscription Versions available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7

Guardly instantly connects with your emergency contact numbers when you are in trouble. This app is unlike most others, it initiates a phone call to contacts with details like your location and emergency type. You can assign different contacts for different kinds of emergencies – like “Walking alone” or “Met an accident”.

A profile page is also present, where you can add birth date, eye/hair color, weight, height, blood type, medical information, allergies, doctor’s name and phone number, and insurance details.

The subscription version enables the receiver to connect it as a conference call, also can text the group a link in case of emergency, so that they can locate on a map. It also include live location tracking.

5. cab4me

cab4me

Image Courtesy: cab4me

Free and Subscription Versions are available on iPhone and android.

Got lost in an unfamiliar place. Get a cab, anytime, anywhere. Cab4me is a mobile cab finder. Click cab4me app on your device, GPS position on a map will show your exact position. Pick that as approximate pickup location, choose a nearby taxi stand if it shows up (Only list of companies that are willing to pick using cab4me will show up)

Switch to call tab to get a list of local cab companies. It will show up available car types and payment procedures. If no cab company is listed, a local search will be performed to get you result, so you will always get an option. Subscription version have a trip calculator, it allows to figure out the cost involved in advance.

Share your go to personal safety apps in the comments section!!