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6 Reasons to Use a VPN

6 Reasons to Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, allows you to browse the Internet without fear of being spied on by neighbors, hackers, or the government, as the case may be. While you might think that only those with something to hide would be interested in using a VPN, that’s definitely not the case. Think of all the information you put out there on a daily basis without even thinking about it: Your Facebook status, your credit card numbers, your passwords…the list goes on. You might think that the websites you’re using are secure, and while that may be the case, it’s the security of your network that you need to worry about.

There are also some ways you can benefit from using a VPN while utilizing WiFi connections other than your own, as well as if you were to travel abroad. Choosing the right VPN allows you to essentially view the Internet as if you’re in your home country, without any restrictions that may affect local ISPs. Bear in mind that you utilize a VPN in this manner at your own risk, as many countries can be extremely strict when enforcing their Internet censorship policies.

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If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to use a VPN, decide for yourself after reading up on the following benefits of a Virtual Private Network:

Access restricted content abroad

So you took a trip to another country, but it’s raining and you’re jet-lagged. You go to load up some Breaking Bad on Netflix, only to realize that Netflix is completely blocked in the country you’re currently staying in. And so are a ton of your favorite websites. With a VPN, you can use your American IP address anywhere in the world, thus tricking Netflix and other websites into thinking your actually in the States. Hey, it’s not like you’re downloading movies illegally.

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Access restricted content at school or work

How many times have you tried to visit a legitimate site for work- or school-related research only to find it’s been blocked by your organization’s “Acceptable Use” policy? I can recall a time when I worked in a high school in which Khan Academy was blocked. I’m not advocating for you to circumvent your school or company’s gateway for illicit or immoral means, but using a VPN can allow you to access important information that is completely necessary to your current task.

Use public WiFi

Public WiFi is about as unsecure as you can get. If you’ve ever logged into the free WiFi at Starbucks, you ran a huge risk of having all of your information stolen by some guy sitting in his car in the parking lot. Not only that, but if you really weren’t careful, you may have logged into a different WiFi network altogether, inadvertently handing your information directly over to a spoofer without him having to do any work at all. With a VPN, your information is encrypted, so it is indecipherable to anyone trying to eavesdrop.

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Private file sharing

Again, I’m not saying you should be downloading and uploading stolen files such as copyrighted music and movies, but a VPN allows you to send and receive files to friends without anyone else seeing what you’re doing. Surely there times you need to share files that you don’t want others seeing. By using a VPN, sending private documents or personal photo albums can be done without the thought crossing your mind of your information being leaked to the world for all to see.

Browsing isn’t logged

Once again, this sounds a little shady, but think about it. Imagine you were accused of a drug-related crime, but weren’t able to prove your innocence. The authorities subpoena your Internet browsing history, and find that you had previously looked up the recipe for crack cocaine. It’s not going to matter that this was for a research project in chemistry class; it’s only going to make you look worse in front of a judge. If you had used a VPN, your browsing history would be completely untraceable, and you’d have a much better chance at convincing the court of your innocence.

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Right to privacy

Above all else, privacy is (or at least, should be) a basic human right. Everything discussed above should be private in the first place. But unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s not. Even those who have nothing to hide should be wary about how their Internet browsing habits may appear when viewed out of context by outsiders. Remember: Nothing you do online is private, but with a VPN you can minimize the chances of your private information becoming public knowledge.

Featured photo credit: Instructablesnternet gratis en el aeropuerto Matecaña, Pereira, gracias a UNE – Mario Carvajal via farm5.staticflickr.com

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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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