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9 Major Tech Mistakes You Need to Immediately Stop

9 Major Tech Mistakes You Need to Immediately Stop

We live in a society fully saturated by technology. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t live without my tech – it’s both my passion and a necessity for my way of life. As Ben Parker always said, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” and the power of technology is so easy to obtain and wield that we often forget that. It’s time to be responsible and stop making these common tech mistakes.

1. Using the Same Password for Everything

Target, Adobe, Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat are among the large companies whose databases of private customer information have been compromised. If you use the same username/password for all of your accounts, changing your password on one site doesn’t do you any good. I could find your login credentials in one of those hacks and use it to access any accounts you have with the same info.

Mix-up your passwords, and never reuse the same password twice. It sounds harder than it is – all you have to do is take your basic passphrase (i.e. “password”), and change it up. Your Google password can be “pA55w0rd1!” and Facebook can be “pA55w0rd2!” so you can remember both easily without compromising your security. Find more password tips in this Lifehack.

2. Not Using 2-Step Verification

Speaking of passwords, even those aren’t very secure anymore (check out this infographic). If I have access to any of your devices (either physically or through a network), I can install a keylogger and harvest all of your passwords. Enabling 2-step verification makes this much more difficult.

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All major services (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) allow some form of 2-step verification, and you’d be remiss not to utilize them. Set up your accounts to send you a text, require an authentication code, etc. when accessed outside of your personal devices and home network.

3. Connecting to Public Networks without a VPN

Many businesses and organizations offer public Wi-Fi networks, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, airports and gyms. Using these networks opens your computer to anyone else on the network – it’s like leaving your wallet open next to you while sleeping on a park bench.

A virtual private network (VPN) secures your information while using these public networks. If you wouldn’t participate in an orgy with strangers without a condom, don’t connect to a public network without a VPN.

4. Not Updatin­g Software

In 2011, the Sony PlayStation Network was hacked, and the personal info of every PlayStation user (which was stored in an unencrypted database) was exposed. It happened a month after Sony missed an important Apache server upgrade.

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Updating your software is vital, as the companies that created it are constantly fighting to fix security vulnerabilities. If you’re not updating your software at least once a week, your data has a higher chance of being compromised.

5. Disabling Your Firewall and Antivirus

Sometimes your firewall can be a pain – this is especially true for gamers and those who use streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. It can be tempting to disable your security software to make it easier to access the sites you love, but that’s only making things worse.

Instead, set individual rules for each site. This is time-consuming for the first couple of days, but the protection it provides over the life of your computer is beyond worth it. My recommendations for security software are AVG (desktop/laptop antivirus), ZoneAlarm (desktop/laptop firewall), and Lookout Security (smartphone/tablet antivirus/firewall), all of which have free versions available.

6. Ignoring Social Media Privacy Settings

Facebook tells you to use your real info, as do LinkedIn and Google+. It’s ok to use some of your personal info (basic demographics, work history, etc.), but don’t give away the entire farm.

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Privacy is a cloudy concept these days, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution. The last thing you need is someone using your personal info on social media against you, and this is especially dangerous for women, who are stalked online at alarming rates.

7. Ignoring App Permissions

Speaking of using your personal information, you should pay very close attention to what types of permissions you agree to give when either installing apps and games on your mobile device or using a social media account to sign in to ANY service.

Candy Crush doesn’t need your (Global Positioning System) GPS location; Huffington Post doesn’t need to know who your friends are; and Flappy Birds has no business seeing your contacts. Learning to say “No” is one of the most important human skills you can have – start with software, and work your way up to other people.

8. Not Encrypting Your Email

Do you remember the U.S. Post Office? When I was your age, in order to send someone a message, our mailman had to walk barefoot, uphill in the snow both ways. These days we send emails, but it’s important to keep the mailman imagery in your head.

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An email isn’t a letter – it’s a postcard, and the message is visible to anyone. When you encrypt your email with Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption, you’re sealing that postcard in the same secure envelope used by every government and corporation on this planet. If they’re doing it, so should you. And it’s 100% free. There’s literally no reason for you not to be doing this.

9. Not Protecting Your Smartphone

Smartphones are so ubiquitous in our lives these days that we take them for granted. They’re computers, filled with all your private and personal info. When you trade your phone in for a new one, you need to erase your personal info first. It’s not as simple as just deleting it, however – you need to use the “One Pass Zero” method, which not only erases the data, but overwrites it with a series of zeros (remember digital data in its purest form is 1s and 0s).

Think of it in terms of writing a note with pencil and paper. When you erase the pencil marks, you can still see what you wrote, but if you scribble over the part you erased, it’s much harder. With enough time and effort, even a one-pass deletion can be overcome, but the “geniuses” at the Apple store don’t have those kinds of resources. If you don’t do it, however, you’ll end up being one of these Apple horror stories.

The Internet is an amazing place, but it can also be dangerous. Before heading out into the web, make sure to protect yourself and your data. The last thing you need is to have your rent or mortgage payment declined because someone hacked the servers of an app you downloaded and used for five minutes, dumping every user’s personal info online for everyone to use.

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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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