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Why 2013 is the Year You Start Using a VPN

Why 2013 is the Year You Start Using a VPN

As an internet user in 2013, you have to deal with a whole bunch of privacy and security considerations that weren’t such a big deal a decade ago. Today, political leaders, governments, corporations, and other institutions are making subtle attempts to compromise the privacy we as internet users used to enjoy. This isn’t happening all at once, but the next few years should prove to very interesting and will no doubt define the future of the internet.

Remember SOPA and PIPA? These congressional acts were quickly protested by some of the largest corporations in America. A group named The Internet Defense League was created to quickly organize massive action online and combat such legislation should it come up in the future. However, we have not seen the last of these political attempts to encroach on individual privacy online—this is just the beginning.

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Within the last 12 months, a new policy called “The Six Strikes Policy” was based as a joint effort by the Motion Picture Association of America and the three largest Cable companies to not only track and private internet records, but to also penalize private internet users who download copyrighted files. This means that if you’re a bittorrent user or if you download any music/movies/pictures or other content online, you may be at risk.

Listen, I’m not trying to scare you. What’s important is that you’re informed of the debate surrounding internet privacy and that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself. By far the best way to protect yourself online is to start using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short. If you don’t know what a VPN is, that’s fine; it’s really not that complicated to understand. Essentially, a VPN connects your computer to a remote server somewhere in the world. Once you establish a connection between your computer and this remote server, you can start to surf the internet through the remote server. Not only does this change your IP address, it also encrypts your browsing data, making you “invisible” in a sense.

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Using a VPN is a great way to regain control of your online privacy, and it can help you achieve a level of desired anonymity that isn’t otherwise possible these days. VPN connections are also 100% legal and most, if not all, Fortune 500 companies use VPN connections to protect their data and to allow employees to safely access corporate servers while they’re out of the office. So if you’re worried about the legality of a VPN, don’t! If Microsoft, Google, KPMG, and the other big boys can use them, so can you!

Lastly, VPNs aren’t just for those who are paranoid about protecting their privacy. There are many other great benefits that come with using one. Let’s say you’d like to do some online banking or some internet shopping at a cafe over a public hotspot connection. Connecting to a VPN would encrypt your data so your online banking and credit information would remain safe and protected.

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You can also use a VPN to change your IP address, which may be important for those of you who are traveling or living outside of the United States. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, HBO Go, and others are protected by “geotargetting” which means that only users with an American IP address can access these services. If you’ve ever wanted to watch Netflix in Europe or access Pandora while you travel, it’s possible with a VPN, as you can easily switch to an American IP address, giving you the ability to sign up and start using these web applications. Pretty cool, right?

VPN technology has been around for over a decade and it isn’t going anywhere. As the debate over privacy carries on, it’s wise to start looking into how a VPN can help protect you from prying eyes.

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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