Friday, 19 November 2010
Monday, 15 November 2010
Friday, 12 November 2010
It’s important to take the precautions to protect you and your products from information theft these days, because it’s getting easier and easier for people to share digital products. Information theft is a type of computer security risk and it’s defined as stealing an individual’s personal or confidential information. When this is stolen this can cause as much damage, or possibly more then hardware or software theft. Business or home users are both at risk of information theft. One example is a malicious individual stealing credit cards so they can make unauthorized purchases on another person’s account. If information is transmitted over a network then it has a very high chance for malicious users to intercept the information. Every computer in the path of your data can see what you send, and they can also see what you send. A lot of companies try to stop information from being stolen by applying some user identification and authentication controls. These constraints are best for protecting computers along a company’s premise. However, to protect information on the Internet and on networks, companies use a handful of encryption methods.
Encryption refers to the process of converting data into an unreadable form. One type of encryption software is Obfuscated code which is a programming language that is extremely hard to read. Encrypted data is like any other data because you can send it through a lot of options, but to read it you must decrypt or decipher it into a more readable form. Throughout the encryption process, the unencrypted data or input is known as plaintext and the encrypted data, or output is known as ciphertext. To encrypt information, the programmer converts the plaintext into ciphertext using some type of encryption key. An encryption key is the programmed formula that the person who receives the data uses to decrypt the ciphertext. There are a variety of encryption or algorithm methods. However, with an encryption key formula, you will be using more then one of these techniques. Some business use available software, while others develop their own. When an individual send information online such as through an email for example, they will never know who might intercept it, or to whom it could possibly be forwarded to. That’s why it’s not such a good idea to send confidential information online. However, an individual can help protect themselves by encrypting the information, or signing it digitally. Some very popular email encryption software is known as Pretty Good Piracy (PGP) andCenturion Soft Secure Protection. Pretty Good Piracy is known as freeware, which means that individuals can use it for their personal needs but not for commercial purposes. You can download this for no cost. A digital signature is a type of encrypted code that a individual, website, or company pastes to an electronic document to make sure that the individual is who they claim to be. The code will most likely consist of the user name and a hash of usually part of the message. A hash is a type of mathematical formula that generates content from a specific message, so it is different from a message. The recipient will have to generate a new hash from the received message and compares it from the one with the digital signature to make sure that they match appropriately. The main purpose behind using digital signatures is to make sure that it’s not a deceiver participating in the transaction. So, digital signatures help narrow down e-mail scams. A digital signature can also make sure that contents of a message have not been changed. A lot of web browsers use encryption that is regarded as 40 bit encryption, and this is a very low level. A variety of browsers also offer 128 bit encryption which has a higher level of protection because the encryption key is longer. Some important places that require extremely hire security like banks, and online retailers needs at least 128-bit encryption. A website that successfully uses encryption methods to secure information is known as a secure site. A secure site uses digital certificate with security protocol. The two most popular security protocols are secure sockets layer, and secure HTTP.
A digital certificate is a notice that verifies that a user or a website is for real or not a scam. A lot of ecommerce websites will usually have digital certificates. A certificate authority (CA) is an authorized company or individual for that matter that has the ability to issue and verify digital certificates. There are several of websites that offer a digital certificate. Some popular ones are Verisign http://www.verisign.com/, Godaddywww.godaddy.com, Digicert http://www.digicert.com/, and Thawtehttp://www.thawte.com/.The digital certificate will usually contain information such as the username and the serial number of the certificate. By the way, the information in the digital certificate is also encrypted. Next, the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) provides encryption of every detail that passes between a server and a client. SSL also requires the client to have a digital certificate, so the web browser can communicate securely with the client. The web pages that use SSL will usually begin with https as opposed to http. SSL is available in 40 and 128-bit encryption. Secured HTTP (S-HTTP) allows individuals to choose encryption for data that pass through a client and a server. When using S-HTTP, the client and the server must have a digital certificate. This makes S-HTTP more difficult to use then SSL, but on the other hand, it is more secured. Companies that have to use verify a client such as online banking companies use S-HTTP. Also, mobile users can also access computer networks through a virtual private network. When mobile users successfully logon to a main office using some type of standard Internet connection, a virtual private network (VPN) allows the mobile user to secure the connection. VPNs encrypt data as it passes from a notebook computer or any other mobile device so it won’t be intercepted. Regardless of your security method, I will highly recommend using the most powerfulness safeguard which is a backup. It prevents data loss from several of sources such as system failure for one. A backup is simply a backup of a file, program, or desk that can be used in place of the original if its loss, destroyed, or corrupted. If the files are destroyed, then you can replace them by restoring it, which copies the backed up files into their original position in the computer.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Why are they selling poppies Mummy, selling poppies in town today?
The poppies, child, are flowers of love, for the men who marched away.
But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy? Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died in the fields where poppies grow.
But why are the poppies so red Mummy? Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood my child. The blood that our soldiers shed.
The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy. Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child is the symbol of grief, for the men who never came back.
But why, Mummy are you crying so? Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child, for the world is forgetting again.
Friday, 5 November 2010
This is why spyware are usually frowned upon and greatly avoided. They are more intrusive than adware. Spyware have their own separate executable programs which allow them to record your keystrokes, scan files on your hard disks and look at other applications that you use including but not limited to chat programs, cookies and Web browser settings.
The spyware then will send the information that it had gathered to the spyware author. The agent will then use this information for advertising and marketing purposes. They even sell the information to advertisers and other parties.
Adware, on the other hand, are more legitimate form of freeware. Similar to spyware, adwares are advertising materials which are packaged into a software or program and are installed automatically once that particular program or software is added into the computer system. Some forms of adware, on the other hand, download advertising contents as a particular application is being utilized. It is quite unfortunate that most of the adware programs take the form of spywares that is they track and report user information to program authors.
Some signs of spyware infections include pop-up ads that seem to be not related to the site you are viewing. More often than not, spyware pop-ups are advertisements about adult contents. Also if you notice your computer slowing down, there's a big chance that spywares and its other components have found their way in your operating system. When the Windows desktop also takes a longer time to load, its best to scan your computer for possible spyware infections.
Meanwhile, viruses are destructive form of software. They were purely designed and created for one purpose alone: to wreck havoc to your computer. They destroy whatever they come in contact to and will initiate self replication and infect as many components of the computer's operating system or network as possible.
Nowadays, a lot of anti-virus software also provides spyware and adware scanning and removal utilities. Some programs, however, are focused on located and deleting or destroying spyware and adware programs. Whether is an anti-virus software or a anti-spyware dedicated scanner, they both search your computer and identify any spyware and virus installed on your system.
They then remove it as well as their components located in the system registry among other places in your computer. It is therefore, good to regularly update your virus or spyware scanner to ensure that your computer is protected from the thousands of spyware and viruses in the internet. Never be fooled from ads that claim that their products only contain adware.
These adware maybe spyware in disguised and are just waiting to be deployed for them to gather your information. Learn to setup firewall systems and always block pop-up blockers to minimize computer infection and ensure the security of all your computer files.
Friday, 29 October 2010
As we all know Halloween is celebrated by children who get to dress up deliberately to scare themselves and their friends and go trick or treating for sweets and other goodies to eat and for most children this is where Halloween ends.
While once upon a time the idea of trick or treating alone may have been a good idea, in today's modern world, unfortunately we need to provide some protection to our children.
Some sensible tips when choosing you're child's costume are as follows:
- Make sure that the mask is not going to restrict the child's breathing.
- Make sure that the costume is not so long or tight that they can't move quickly and safely if the really need to.
- Ensure that they can see clearly, as due to the excitement of trick or treating they may forget to look when crossing the road.
- Remember to make sure that they are visible to traffic, especially if you happen to live in the Northern Hemispheree where it's starting to get dark earlier.
- And if you ask me, the most important one, make sure that a responsible adult is either in tow or nearby to keep an eye on the children and ensure their safety, even if it is just from cars and barking dogs.
All that being said there are plenty of people who don't celebrate Halloween and they should be allowed to have their views respected. If you know of someone in your area that doesn't celebrate Halloween encourage your children to leave them out of their trick or treating route and everyone can be happy.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Please check back as we will be updating the site regularly with new details.
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Friday, 13 August 2010
It has been reported that Brits who have gone to India and Pakistan to have elective cosmetic surgery are returning home with a gene that can turn a common or garden bug into a superbug. The resistant gene has been identified by the medical profession as NDM-1. The gene has the ability to alter bacteria and make them resistant to nearly all antibiotics. It is most common in the E.coli bacteria, or on other DNA structures that area easily copied and passed onto other types of bacteria.
While the numbers of people currently identified with the gene remains very small the real threat of this bacteria altering gene is likely to spread worldwide with people all over the world looking for cheaper and quicker options to have elective surgery.
To read more about this superbug go to http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/197509.php
Monday, 8 March 2010
One of the drawbacks of working from home is the difficulty of getting serious clients who are willing to pay what you are worth.
I enjoy working from home as a transcriptionist and I have good and loyal clients who make it possible but how does one deal with the demands of people like this?
This was posted on Get a Freelancer today:
“I need only serious transcribers who can finish up the project by today. There is totally 3 hours of audio. You can be a team or person. But you must follow the below points strictly and there wont be any excuses:-
You must finish the project with in 5-6 hours It should be with 100% accuracy
Pay will be $7 or $8 per audio hour depending on quality (If you are not accepting for this bid, then please dont apply). The completed file should be proofread, spellchecked, formatted, grammar checked etc.
There will be a continuous flow of work if you finish this successfully. Note that turnaround time is very important. Once you place your bid be online. I will hire within 2-3 hours and you should have me the files back within 5-6 hours.”
Downloading 3 hours of audio could take several hours alone. A professional transcriptionist allows approximately four hours to complete one hour’s worth of audio, and that’s just the typing. Spell-checking and proofreading is a given and is included in the rate but could somebody please tell me how to check the grammar on audio? Surely the whole point of transcription is to produce a verbatim report? I do tweak here and there, particularly if I’m transcribing a foreigner, but limit it to replacing words like ‘choosen’ with ‘chosen’. If a client specifically asks me to fix the English I have more leeway, but even then I make an effort to stick to the original.
The above-quoted job provider is particularly arrogant and unrealistic but unfortunately there are many people that think that because we run our businesses from home we are not doing a “real job” and want to pay accordingly, or not at all. The following quote was taken from clientsfromhell.wordpress.com: “ … and by the way, I can’t afford to pay you for this job, but you will be paid in karma — which is so much better and more permanent anyway.” Better for whom? Can you eat karma?
We do real jobs and provide real quality. We pay our own overheads and work long hours and stick to our deadlines.
Sadly, there will be takers for this position but they are unlikely to have English as their first language and the job provider will get what she is paying her two dollars (or less) an hour for. I would love to see what she ends up with.
Saturday, 6 March 2010
While I am not going to get into who should look for the replacement to cover work while you're on leave as I believe that's a personal choice issue, I do however believe that you should advise your clients either way if you are going to be unable to do their work for a period of time.
While a week may not seem long to you in the life and work of a doctor that can be a long time. Whatever the reason you are unable to do the work common courtesy should prevail. If you were an employee you would ask for leave from your boss, but as a self-employed profressional you should advise your clients that you will be unavailable to do their work and the dates you will be unavailable. If you are arranging the cover then also let your client have at least minimal contact details for the person providing cover for you in case they need to get hold of them urgently.
To my new client's previous transcriptionist, I hope you had a great break and good luck with finding new work to replace what you've lost.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
When I first started out as a virtual assistant, more years ago than I care to remember, there weren’t many other VA’s around and therefore not much competition. Nowadays, a sizeable proportion of the clients I take on have worked with at least one other VA in the past. When I ask what differences they notice between how we work and what they have experienced in the past, it is often commented on that what they like more than anything is that we work as a partnership with our clients, being proactive in their businesses and looking for opportunities for them and suggesting ideas, as opposed to those VAs that just sit and wait for work to be delegated to them.
So how do we achieve that distinction? Part of it is the mindset. When you make the leap from being an employee to a sole trader or business owner you will quickly realise that if you sit around and wait for work to be delegated, you won’t get very much of it. At that point you learn to make yourself an active member of your clients ‘team’ very quickly or you will soon start to flounder.
To give a great impression straight away it’s important to ask the right questions at the first meeting with your potential client, before they sign up. You need to ascertain where you can be most useful to them. What are their weak points? What work they have to do that they continually put off either because there is no time or because they don’t enjoy it? Find out what their plans are for their business. What do they want to achieve?
Once the client has come onboard you need to maintain the momentum with scheduled meetings as an ongoing process both with regular and ad-hoc clients. By having detailed monthly catch up meetings, either in person or by telephone, you can identify what is coming up in their calendar and how you can help them by sharing some of that workload.
For some really great documents to help you with initial client consultations and ongoing client reviews, take a look at our New Client Template Pack and Client Management Template Pack.
For more detailed information about how to conduct a client consultation, download our Podcast on Client Consutation here.
Copyright 2008 by Justine Curtis
About the author
Justine Curtis is the director of her own successful virtual assistant business My Virtual Assistant which is now recruiting a team of virtual assistant licensees and founder of The UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers – sign up at http://www.ukava.co.uk. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and is proud to be able to pass on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group.
Friday, 12 February 2010
In the interests of those who might not know the term phishing, it's the label given to those emails that you receive purporting to be from someone they aren't. For instance in this case my bank, claiming that my account was being accessed by a third party and that ownership was in doubt. They usually include a link or form that you need to fill in and send back. The problem is that they're really not from who they claim to be.
Usually the easiest and best way to tell if the emails are real is to look at the spelling. In genuine communications I've received from my bank via email the spelling and grammar has always been pretty perfect.
The phishing emails have spelling and grammar that would leave most First Graders pulling their hair out at how bad it is.
If you have any doubts about whether an email is authentic or not please contact the sender and ask before you click on any links.
Having had a bank card cloaned a couple of years ago I can tell you the trouble and inconvenience of having to try and resolve the matter is truly astounding. Certainly it could have been made easier by my bank if they'd given me all the information that I needed right at the start rather than in small bite size pieces.
I truly hope that none of you are or become a victim of the phishing exercises.
Otherwise I hope you all have a super weekend.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
I've had numerous calls over the years from clients who have had work done by people who claim to be experts at what they do when in actual fact they aren't. The classic was the one I received today. The client had hired someone to assist in finalizing a tender document to be sent to a government organization. The lady who worked all day for them actually was not as experienced in terms of the needs for the clients as she claimed to be. The client is now left with a document that needs urgent attention with a very tight deadline, the tender needs to be submitted tomorrow.
As a virtual assistant it is imperative to have a network of like-minded people to interact with. This serves a multitude of purposes. It allows for a sounding board on those days when things are falling apart faster than you can pick them up, as well as to celebrate the joys with you. The other useful factor of such a network is the ability to be able to either subcontract or pass on work to people who are better equipped, or have more experience in areas where your skills may be lacking.
If you are in South Africa, or Africa, then there is such a network and what a wonderful group of people there are on it. If you want to join then sign up with TAVASA (http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/tavasa/).
Friday, 5 February 2010
There will be the people, many of which may be friends and family, who tell you that you can’t achieve your goal or that it’s unrealistic. While it’s hard to work against such beliefs you need to have the faith of your convictions and stick to your guns.
Ignore the Nay-sayers and those wishing to destroy your wish and keep going strong. Find people of a similar mindset and spend time with them. They will help you achieve your goals, rather than crushing them.
Good luck and I hope 2010 is the year that you achieve your goals.
Monday, 1 February 2010
Taking the first step is the hardest but each and every step thereafter will get easier and easier. You need to create new habits in order to achieve your new goals. It takes time to create a new habit so remember to plan time each day for your goals until you no longer need to think about prioritizing the time and you just do it.
Affirmations are a great way to help you meet your goals. It really is simply telling yourself the same thing every day until it becomes a reality. Work on your affirmations as often as you need to each and every day until they become true.
While your wishes and goals are your own and personal there is no reason why you can’t get other people to help you achieve them. Not everyone has the same skill set and resources at hand, so feel free to ask and accept help in achieving your goals.
Friday, 29 January 2010
Brainstorm your plan in a similar way to how you brainstormed your wish. Write “What steps do I need to take to ______?” at the top of the paper and then keep asking yourself the question and writing the answers down until you have exhausted all ideas. Now take the steps and if necessary break them down into smaller steps. This will help make your goals seem more appealing and be much easier for you to achieve them.
Remember the deadlines otherwise your plan and wish are meaningless. Remember though that the deadlines need to be reasonable. One your deadlines are set then you need to set milestones so that you know how well you are doing meeting the target of making your wish come true.
OK, now move all of the information to your daily calendar so that you can schedule the work in. If you know your deadlines and goals, it’s easier to make a firm commitment to them and set the plan in motion.
Now that we’re making progress, identify your limiting factors and identify the way to work through them.
The next step is to schedule the progress report. You don’t have targets and deadlines at work without having to report on their progress so why allow it to affect your wishes. Some of the questions to ask yourself include:
1. Have I met the milestones I planned to meet since my last progress report?
2. Do I need to change my plan to reach my milestones?
3. Do I need to change my milestones?
Monday, 25 January 2010
Now you’ve decided that you want to make your wishes come true, you need to decide what it is you really want. A great way to achieve this is by brainstorming. Not the sitting round the table with a bunch of colleagues trying to come up with ideas but rather try a different approach. Write your question down on the top of a blank piece of paper, and let your subconscious mind take over.
What ever comes into your head, write down on the paper no matter how strange, odd, or weird you may think it is.
Once you’re ready to start set a time limit and keep writing for that period of time, whether it only is a minute or whether it be 10 minutes. Don’t stop writing down your thoughts until the time is up.
Don’t critique any of your ideas right now, just write them down. Your subconscious brain accepts criticism as badly as most people do.
Here is a great question to start your first brainstorming session:
What would I really want from life if I were absolutely, positively certain I would get it?
OK, now you’re ready. Go brainstorm, don’t worry about how you’ll accomplish everything on your list just write them all down. You can worry about the “how” later.
OK, so now write for at least 2 minutes. You can break the question down into areas for work, home life, hobbies etc. If you struggle to keep writing for 2 minutes, just change the answers down, changing a word here or there, or reordering the answer, but whatever happens don’t stop writing until the 2 minutes are up. If you’re still full of ideas after 2 minutes feel free to keep writing.
Once you’ve brainstormed you now need to prioritize what you have written down. A great way to do this is to number each item on the list. Now taking just the first two decide which is more important to you. Now compare the First Choice and compare it to number 3. If your First Choice changes so be it. Continue down the list one idea at a time until you get to the end and have your First Choice.
Now you need to find your purpose. If you don’t think you have one, you’re wrong! Even if there is nothing else, then your purpose is to find your purpose.
Now you’ve decided on your First Choice, identified your purpose, the only think left is to pay the price. Whether it is a figurative or real price you need to pay it to set your cause and effect in motion.
Now to make your wish presentable. Write it down, but be specific. Set yourself a time limit to meet the goal, and remember to make sure that it’s reachable. Only wish for what you can control, don’t wish for something that you have no control over or it won’t come true. Make sure that what you’re wishing for is what you really want, not something you don’t want. Make the wish emotional, start with something like “I choose”. Add the emotion to it, be brief and believe in it. The lastly take action to make it happen.
Friday, 22 January 2010
I have a question for you. Are you ready to make 2010 the year of your dreams. There is a lot of talk of Ayoba in South Africa, what with the 2010 Soccer World Cup later this year and how 2010 is the year for Africa.
Well if you think it’s your year as well then setting goals to achieve your aims is going to be very important. So my first few blogs of the year are going to be aimed at goal setting and some hints and tips to help you reach those goals.
The first step, is to make your wish. Decide what you want. Remembering that there is always a cause and effect in everything we do so rather than setting an unreasonable goal, rather think of it as the effect that you want to cause. Once you’ve decided on it, write it down, get a picture of it, and then place it somewhere prominent so that you can look at it often during the day.
Step two is to make a plan. Create the plan of action you need to follow to make your wish come true.
Step three, take action. Start working on the things that will make your wish come true.
And lastly, step four, never give up. No matter how hard it may become finish what you start. Never give up on your dream and while it may not happen as quickly as you wish, you will reach it.
Remember that to make your life what you want, you have to set in motion the cause and the effect will look after itself.