Annual Security Recommendations

I have described computer security a number of times in my blog. Now I am going to discuss some of the tools that I recommend this year for you to use. Here are my recommendations:

Browser: Firefox – Its open source and is the backbone of tor for a reason. I much prefer firefox to any other browser. Chrome is a close second but I do not like that its not open source. I only use Firefox for email and sites where I login otherwise, I use the next site listed as most secure for all of my searching, research, googling, etc. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/
Most secure browser: Tor. Tor is designed for those times when you don’t want anyone to see what you are doing. TOR blocks your ISP, the government, etc. from seeing what you are doing online. https://www.torproject.org
Mobile Browser – Firefox and Firefox Focus are my preferred when I am connected to VPN, otherwise I use various versions of TOR for mobile which can be found in the app stores for android/ios. Firefox focus is the best but it may be too limiting for some so Firefox is the next best. Focus is really fast and simple. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/focus
Security add on for your browser – uBlock – works for firefox and chrome and keeps away ads and other nonsense. This helps many pages load faster too. It will also prevent youtube ads. https://www.ublock.org/
VPN – Cyberghost. There are tons of good vpns but I like that this company offers a true free version. If you are using a program like Kodi to watch TV/Movies you better be using a VPN. https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_US/
Malware/adware – Malwarebytes – its free and very powerful.  https://www.malwarebytes.com/
Antivirus – Avira – Its free! I also think Windows defender that comes free with windows is decent.  https://www.avira.com/
Firewall – Zonealarm – https://www.zonealarm.com/software/free-firewall/

Digital Screen Time Limits and Young Children’s Psychological Well-Being: Evidence From a Population-Based Study

“Digital screen use is a staple of contemporary life for adults and children, whether they are browsing on laptops and smartphones, or watching TV. Pediatricians and scientists have long expressed concerns about the impact of overusing technology on people’s well being. However, new research suggests that existing guidance managing children’s digital media time may not be as beneficial as first thought. “…”Taken together, our findings suggest that there is little or no support for the theory that digital screen use, on its own, is bad for young children’s psychological well being.”

I am not surprised by this finding at all. Moderation is key to everything in life and technology is no different.

Science daily Article – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171214140810.htm

Actual Journal Article: Andrew K. Przybylski, Netta Weinstein. Digital Screen Time Limits and Young Children’s Psychological Well-Being: Evidence From a Population-Based Study. Child Development, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13007

Physical stores are going under: Why I don’t blame technology but I blame a bad business model

It’s easy to say ‘well they can’t compete with online prices’. Except in many cases they can. Take large chains like Walmart, they can compete with online prices and they do, however, they still don’t want to admit that they should. What do I mean by that? Well if you compare prices of walmart.com and amazon.com you will see that the prices are nearly the same. Now, if you go to a walmart store you will see that their prices sometimes vary from their online website. Thus a $50 item in store might be $40 online. Sometimes they are the same but many times not. Walmart will price match their own online site – but now you have forced the customer to work for the better price by getting a manager, going to customer service, etc. – essentially adding time and frustration to their shopping experience. Why should they have to do that when they could just order the product online to begin with and get the better price?

You see trying to get the customer to pay top dollar at the store isn’t a good business model anymore. Its at the point where people just assume that the store will charge more so its easier to just order online without even comparing. This is where big box stores are losing out and why they are closing. Their theory is that people will come to the store and buy the product without price checking…and sure some people might do that, however, with all of these closings of stores like walmart, sams club, and target, its pretty clear that this line of thinking does not work. Its a bad model. Its not sustainable and if they want to stay in the game they need to change.

How can stores solve this problem? Start advertising that they have the lowest prices and that they are comparing with top online sellers to ensure their prices are the lowest. Then people like me would have no problem going to the store and feeling confident that what I was buying was the correct price. Walmart could easily start by just automatically having the same price online vs in store. Smaller stores can do the same too. People enjoy going to stores but they need to do a better job with their prices or they are done. Technology didn’t create this problem, technology is solving a problem that worked against the customer.

Apple admits to slowing down old iphones

See here: http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/21/technology/apple-slows-down-old-iphones/index.html

I have personally noticed this as well as battery drain. These phones are designed to last 2 years (6months+/-). One of the good things about apple phones is that they always give you the latest updates but in these forced updates your phone will no longer operate as well and they are now admitting they do it on purpose. I have some gripes about Android who has similar issues – their issue is that they don’t update their phones to the latest browser because you rely on 3rd party companies, like Samsung, to perform the updates. I think your best bet for a phone is the Google Pixel 2 right now. Updates straight from Google and a monster of a phone. I am sticking with Apple for now as I am doing research with biometrics and need the apple watch for a portion of this research.