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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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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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