Monday, July 7, 2014

Before Orkut shuts, take a final walk through your memories

Google has announced a shutdown of its first ever social networking site, Orkut, on September 30. Launched almost a decade ago, Facebook has been ruling the social networking world, and by now people have almost forgotten about Orkut. In fact, the younger generation may not even know about the existence of such a thing called Orkut.

It was only a few days back that people were dragged down the memory lane when Google decided to bid farewell to Orkut. The news about Orkut’s shut down kind of worked as a re-wind moment for most of us who have used Orkut.

Remember how till some time back it was one of the coolest thing to be on Orkut, and it was much more cool if you had over one thousand scraps. It actually turned into a competition to have the highest number of scraps and people on your friend-list, and how can we forget the ‘testimonials’. People actually begged each other and lured their friends to write testimonials for them.

Now after years when we think of it, Orkut with itself brought in not just the idea of staying connected but also a wave of competitiveness and narcissism. If you don’t believe it, open your Orkut accounts again, and see what was your life like during the days of Orkut. Dig in to your teen days and take a final walk through your teenage and salvage those memories. (That is if you actually remember your passwords!)

When you revisit your Orkut page, download those old pictures, which you had totally forgotten, existed. You could even take screen shots and if you find something really special or close to your heart you could maybe take a print of it.

Although Google has said that it will archive the Orkut ‘communities’, but it would be a good idea to take screen grabs because once its archived, it is lose the ‘Orkut’ essence.

Since the Orkut is about to shut, there are also a lot of chances of accounts being hacked, misused. So if you have any important content (photos or any other information) that you think could be misused, make sure you erase it for good. At present, since Orkut is set to shut down by September 30, you have just three months to secure your information, so take out some time from your busy schedules and return to the good old days atleast once.

-Nandini Yadav (DeccanChronicle)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tools to secure your Android phone

Your Android smartphone, more often than not, carries a lot of personal data, including e-mails , passwords, photos and videos, messages, contacts - and even sensitive office documents. It is therefore important that you keep your handset from prying eyes. Equally crucial is a contingency plan, just in case it falls into the wrong hands...

Use Google
Did you know that Android - version 2.2 and later - comes with a feature that lets you track and manage your mobile device?
Look for Google Settings among all the apps on your handset. It is denoted by a grey icon with a lower case 'g' and a gear symbol. Tap on the app, and choose the last option which reads 'AndroidDevice Manager' .

From here, you can activate features that will locate your device in case it is lost or misplaced, and you can also remotely lock and factory reset your handset.

After you've checked these options on your phone, you can log on to the Android Device Manager website ( devicemanager) using your Google account to control your phone remotely.

Protect your handset
An unprotected smartphone could prove to be a soft target for hackers. To guard against malicious apps and OS breaches, we suggest AntiVirus Security Free by AVG Mobile, Mobile Security & Antivirus by Avast Software, or Norton Security antivirus. In most cases, the free versions get the job done.

These tools check the apps you install for suspicious behaviour and even shield your phone from rogue websites. Most free versions can also track your phone in case it is stolen or misplaced; sound an alarm to help you locate it, and even remotely wipe the data on a lost device.

Note: Always choose and run only one antivirus software on your handset.

Snap the intruder
If you want a tool that will help you identify the person who has stolen your smartphone, installLockwatch Anti-Theft by Bloketech. This app uses the front camera to click a photo of the thief who has attempted to unlock your phone with the wrong code. It then e-mails the picture to you along with GPS location, making it easy for law enforcers to track and identify the thief.

The best part is that Lockwatch works silently in the background, so a person trying to gain access to your device doesn't even know he's been photographed.

Track your device
With Prey Anti Theft installed on your phone, you can track its geographical location as well as control the phone remotely. If there is no internet connection, you can send an SMS command to the device to receive its geolocation details. You can remotely lock the handset, unlock it; display a message to the thief on its screen, sound an alarm, take a picture of the crook, and even wipe the data from the phone.

Dos & Don'ts 

* Do not download attachments on your phone from e-mails sent by unknown contacts.

* Before installing an app, take a look at the permissions it seeks. For example, an app that allows you to scribble notes should not ask permission to see your contacts.

* Install apps that have a good rating and a healthy number of downloads (at least over 10,000)

* Use a PIN/Password on your lockscreen.

* Don't connect an app to your Google, Facebook and Twitter accounts, unless you have very good reasons to do so. Just because an app asks you for your account details, doesn't mean you should comply.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Twitter is 'best technology firm to work for'

Twitter has been named as the best technology company to work for, ousting Facebook from the top spot it occupied for three consecutive years.

The list of the top 50 companies in the world is compiled from employee reviews on the jobs website Glassdoor.

One anonymous senior software engineer at Twitter’s London office said: “Great people, like a family, that are passionate about growing Twitter to help everyone. Very flat structure, all ideas seem valued and interaction with senior management is easy and often.”

Other staff, such as a former data scientist at the company in the US, highlighted the “great restaurant quality food with good variety” that was available in the staff canteen.

A current intern in San Francisco highlighted the free shuttle bus from the city to the office as a good perk and said that: “interns are treated very much like full time employees, and are generally given full-time calibre work”.

Not all of the reviews were positive, however. An anonymous former employee said that the food was “great, if you want to gain 20 lbs”. He also criticised the goals of the company: “They don't care about the employees and building a company. It's all about cashing out and hitting it big. HR is almost nonexistent.”

Twitter claims on its website to offer weekly yoga classes, free gym membership, medical and dental benefits, paid maternity and paternity leave and a laundry and dry cleaning service.

The list ranked Twitter top and LinkedIn second. Facebook, which was listed as the best technology employer in 2011, 2012 and 2013, only made it to the third spot.

Technology businesses also fared well in the overall list of the best companies to work for in any sector. Twitter was at second place, LinkedIn at third and Red Hat was at 23rd position. In total there were 22 technology companies in the top 50.


Twitter to be available on mobile phones without internet

Twitter Inc is tying up with a Singapore-based startup to make its 140-character messaging service available to users in emerging markets who have entry-level mobile phones which cannot access the internet.

U2opia Mobile, which has a similar tie-up with Facebook Inc , will launch its Twitter service in the first quarter of next year, chief executive and co-founder Sumesh Menon told Reuters.

Users will need to dial a simple code to get a feed of the popular trending topics on Twitter, he said.

More than 11 million people use U2opia's Fonetwish service, which helps access Facebook and Google Talk on mobile without a data connection.

Twitter, which boasts of about 230 million users, held a successful initial public offering last month that valued the company at around $25 billion.

U2opia uses a telecom protocol named USSD, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, which does not allow viewing of pictures, videos or other graphics.

"USSD as a vehicle for Twitter is almost hand in glove because Twitter has by design a character limit, it's a very text-driven social network," Menon said.

Eight out of 10 people in emerging markets are still not accessing data on their phone, he said.

U2opia, which is present in 30 countries in seven international languages, will localize the Twitter feed according to the location of the user.

"So somebody in Paraguay would definitely get content that would be very very localized to that market vis a vis somebody sitting in Mumbai or Bangalore," he said.

The company, whose biggest markets are Africa and South America, partners with telecom carriers such as Telenor , Vodafone and Bharti Airtel Ltd. U2opia usually gets 30 to 40 percent of what users pay its telecom partners to access Fonetwish.

"For a lot of end users in the emerging markets, it's going to be their first Twitter experience," Menon said.


Why US President Barack Obama can't use an iPhone?

WASHINGTON: The troubled mobile phone makerBlackBerry still has at least one very loyal customer: US President Barack Obama.

At a meeting with youth to promote his landmark healthcare law, Obama said he is not allowed to have Apple's smartphone, the iPhone, for "security reasons," though he still uses Apple's tablet computer, the iPad.

Apple was one of several tech companies that may have allowed the National Security Agency(NSA) direct access to servers containing customer data, according to revelations by formerNSA contractor Edward Snowden. The companies deny the allegation.

Obama fought to keep his BlackBerry after coming to the White House in 2009, though he said only 10 people have his personal email address. Neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton used email during their presidencies.

BlackBerry, a Canadian company formerly known as Research In Motion, virtually invented the idea of on-the-go email, but lost its market stranglehold as rivals brought out more consumer-friendly devices, like Apple's iPhone and phones using Google's Android software.

The company recently halted plans to be sold and is trying to chart a new course by focusing on large business and government clients.


How to protect your Twitter, Facebook account

NEW YORK: Security experts say passwords for more than 2 million Facebook, Google and other accounts have been compromised and circulated online, just the latest example of breaches involving leading Internet companies.

Some services including Twitter have responded by disabling the affected passwords. But there are several things you can do to minimize further threats -even if your account isn't among the 2 million that were compromised.

Here are some tips to help you secure your online accounts:

One thing leads to another
When a malicious hacker gets a password to one account, it's often a stepping stone to a more serious breach, especially because many people use the same passwords on multiple accounts. So if someone breaks into your Facebook account, that person might try the same password on your banking or Amazon account. Suddenly, it's not just about fake messages being posted to your social media accounts. It's about your hard-earned money.

It's particularly bad if the compromised password is for an email account. That's because when you click on a link on a site saying you've forgotten your password, the service will typically send a reset message by email. People who are able to break into your email account, therefore, can use it to create their own passwords for all sorts of accounts. You'll be locked out as they shop and spend, courtesy of you.

If the compromised password is one you use for work, someone can use it to break in to your employer's network, where there are files with trade secrets or customers' credit card numbers.

Better passwords
Many breaches occur because passwords are too easy to guess. There's no evidence that guessing was how these 2 million accounts got compromised, but it's still a good reminder to strengthen your passwords. Researchers at security company Trustwave analyzed the passwords compromised and found that only 5 percent were excellent and 17 percent were good. The rest were moderate or worse.

What makes a password strong?
* Make them long. The minimum should be eight characters, but even longer is better.

* Use combinations of letters and numbers, upper and lower case and symbols such as the exclamation mark. Try to vary it as much as you can. "My!PaSsWoRd-32" is far better than "mypassword32."

* Avoid words that are in dictionaries, as there are programs that can crack passwords by going through databases of known words. These programs know about such tricks as adding numbers and symbols, so you'll want to make sure the words you use aren't in the databases. One trick is to think of a sentence and use just the first letter of each word - as in "tqbfjotld" for "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

* Avoid easy-to-guess words, even if they aren't in the dictionary. Avoid your name, company name or hometown, for instance. Avoid pets and relatives' names, too. Likewise, avoid things that can be looked up, such as your birthday or ZIP code.

One other thing to consider: Many sites let you reset your password by answering a security question, but these answers -such as your pet or mother's maiden name- are possible to look up. So try to make these answers complex just like passwords, by adding numbers and special characters and making up responses.

A second layer
Many services offer a second level of authentication when you're accessing them from a computer or device for the first time. These services will send you a text message to a phone number on file, for instance. The text message contains a code that you need in addition to your password. The idea is that a hacker may have your password, but won't have ready access to your phone.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter are among the services offering this dual authentication. It's typically an option, something you have to turn on. Do that. It may be a pain, but it will save you grief later. In most cases, you won't be asked for this second code when you return to a computer you've used before, but be sure to decline that option if you're in a public place such as a library or Internet cafe.

One final thought
Change your passwords regularly. It's possible your account information is already circulating. If you have a regular schedule for changing passwords for major accounts, you reduce the amount of time that someone can do harm with that information.

You'll need to decide what counts as a major account. Banking and shopping sites are obvious, as are email and social-networking services. It probably doesn't matter much if someone breaks into the account you use to read newspaper articles (unless it's a subscription).

And strong passwords alone won't completely keep you safe. Make sure your computer is running the latest software, as older versions can have flaws that hackers have been known to exploit. Be careful when clicking on email attachments, as they may contain malicious software for stealing passwords. Use firewalls and other security programs, many of which are available for free.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nokia Lumia 525 launches

Nokia has unveiled another budget smartphone. Named the Lumia 525, it's the follow-up to the Lumia 520, with improved specs but still a low, low price.

Nokia's Lumia 525 is the company's latest wallet-friendly smartphone. And it could be the last handset Nokia ever announces, before it becomes part of Microsoft early next year.

It features the same 4-inch screen as its predecessor, the Lumia 520. It has the same 800x480-pixel resolution, too, and inside is the same dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor.

The camera is the same 5 megapixels, and the handset has the 8GB of onboard storage. So what's changed from the Lumia 520?

The 525 has double the RAM of the 520, at 1GB. It also comes with theWindows Phone Black update straight out of the box - this adds more live tiles to the home page, and runs faster than the standard Windows Phone OS.

All the usual Nokia software comes as standard too, like Here Maps.

The Lumia 525 comes with interchangeable glossy back covers. They come in three colours: orange, yellow, or white.
Nokia announced the Lumia 525 in Singapore. There's no word if or when it'll come to the UK, but we'll bring you more news as we get it.

If it does hit these shores, it'll be up against the Motorola Moto G, which costs just £135.

On Monday, Nokia announced the Lumia 1520 will hit the shops a week on Friday. With a 6-inch screen, it's the biggest handset Nokia has ever made.