Hands Free Smartphone?

Are you guilty of naturally checking your phone when you hear an alert? I know I am. I am notorious for searching through my bag to pick up my phone just to check an alert that wasn’t that important.  So many people are tied to their phones. Even if you have a Bluetooth to be hands free when you talk to people, you still need to grab that phone to check who it is before you answer. Wouldn’t it be great if you could detach yourself from your phone and not feel the need to pull it out every time you hear an alert? MetaWatch has come up with an answer by creating the Strata. It is a smart watch which allows you to see all your alerts on your phone without having to look at your phone in a very stylish sporty watch.

MetaWatch has been around for nearly eight years tackling problems of putting information on your wrist. Now with this Strata watch they are hoping to have it soon compatible with iOS 6 so that iPhone users won’t have to hold their phone or strap it to their arm while running, or have to fish for their phone to see an alert.  Although there is no mention of being compatible with Android, Strata has no intention of leaving Android users behind.

the Strata doesn’t venture too far from the models before it. The watch connects to a compatible handset (apple or android) via bluetooth and provides text messages, emails, call information, weather updates all on the watch. In addition, since it is open source software, developers can tap into the Strata with apps that live directly on the phone connected to it. For example developers can tap into it to control music on the phone or running apps for instance so that users can be hands free to look at basically anything.

They are hoping to bring the Strata to consumers this September. Technology is rolling out so many wearable pieces such as Google glass and this Strata watch. Not to mention the already popular Nike shoes that tell you how far you’ve run. What’s next shirts and shorts?In any case, I think this is a pretty nifty piece of technology even though I personally feel you can’t really get to stylish with a watch like that. Do you agree? Do you think there is a demand for this type of watch?

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Virtual Switchboard – Separating Your Business and Personal Life




Do you feel like your business is getting in the way of your personal life? When starting a business, the line between personal life and business life blurs and it becomes very difficult for new owners to work during work time and play during play time.

Take for example incoming calls. Owners can give out their business phone, mobile phone or both. This presents multiple issues of a blurred distinction between business and personal life. Depending on how the business individual handles the situation you can be presented with calls at all hours of the day. How? Let me explain. Let’s say Bob wants to be available to his customers, so he gives out his business line and mobile. Clients now have the ability to call him early in the morning or late at night. This can be difficult to turn off especially if you are trying to get your business off the ground.

Many individuals have the first thought to give their mobile phone. It seems logical since they always have their mobile phone with them and can answer a call wherever they are. Not very many people think to use a virtual switchboard since they tend to assume that it’s for big companies with hundreds of employees.

In fact, a simple service like a Virtual Switchboard can make your business seem larger and more professional than it might be. In addition, it can be one of the many tools to help you separate your business and professional life.

What is a Virtual Switchboard? It is basically like having an assistant or secretary without the assistant or secretary.  The Virtual switchboard virtually transfers incoming calls to various landlines and mobiles based on your setting. Some of the Virtual Switchboard features include transferring calls to mobile and landlines or a voicemail depending on the day and the time. This is a huge feature for separating business and personal life. If you actively use your mobile phone for business but don’t want to be interrupted by business calls during dinner you can use this feature to close your line during a specified time so that you can enjoy your dinner peacefully.  This is easier than shutting off your phone completely when you don’t want to be disturbed because what if a family relative is calling you for an emergency. Having your phone shut down to avoid business calls can also prevent you from receiving important personal calls. There are other features to such as providing welcome messages so clients will hear a greeting instead of a phone ring.

There is no reason for your personal life to suffer because of your business. Simple tools can help you manage your time so that you can enjoy some of the fun things in life.







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Android Phones Hackable?



According to Hacker experts on Wednesday, they demonstrated ways to attack Android smartphones with methods that work on virtually all devices used today. This comes after the numerous efforts by Google to increase security and protection.

That’s concerning to hear when  over 6,400 corporate and government security technology workers gather in Las Vegas for a Black Hat Hacking conference to learn about various threats in their networks.

Hacking experts were able to demonstrate that they can deliver malicious code to the Android phones using the new Android feature near field communications. With this code they can essentially take over your phone.

What is near field communications? Basically it allows users to share photos with friends, or other data such as payment just by bringing the Android phones within a few centimetres of another device equipped with the same technology. If you’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S3 commercials, it’s the part when the guy proposed to the girl by transferring a picture through a glass.

I feel it can be pretty difficult to be a few centimeters away with a phone to take control of an Android phone, however, hackers are able to create a device in the size of a postage stamp which could then be stuck in very discreet places such as a cash register at a restaurant. As a result, when an Android user walks by, the phone would get infected.

Another way Android phones can get infected is through a malicious code that Google publicly disclosed in their Chrome browser. Google fixed the issue in the Chrome browser through updates, however, Android phones are still vulnerable as carriers and device manufacturers have not pushed those fixes or patches to users.

It is interesting because people are saying that Google has pushed some great security features but no one has it.

Another concerning hack that experts revealed in Las Vegas was the fact that they can bypass Gogole’s “Bouncer” technology which identifies malicious program in its Google Play Store.

All they need to do is create a text message to block the application and then they can easily force it to download more control over the Google Play store until they have full control.

This can be a potentially scary factor when deciding between an Android or an iPhone. It was stated that Apple doesn’t have this type of issue.

I guess that’s the difference when you have an open source like Google and a closed source like Apple, threats like these are less likely to happen, but then again there are a lot of limitations that apple poses that Google users are able to obtain more easily.






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Are You a Victim of Mobile SPAM?

Many Aussies experienced numerous SMS spam over the weekend. Consumers are even being warned that with the upcoming Olympics our phones could experience another mass of promotional texts
Most of the spam came from Telstra and Optus customers who claim they were sent SMS’s from mobile maker Nokia informing them that they won a major cash prize
One customer stated they won US$2 Million while another said they won 9,000 pounds
Although mobile spam has been around for almost 4 years this past weekend at least 150 spam messages were received, which is a lot for the Australian Communication and Media Authority anti-spam team.
In addition to these “cash prizes” Australians were also inundated with a death threat message stating that unless they send $5000 to an email address they will be killed. Police were overwhelmed with the panicked response to this threat. They have told Australians to not respond and to remain calm. They have been investigating the message and believe it is the work of a crime gang however they haven’t confirmed if the criminal is Australian based or not. If you were one of the many people alarmed, rest assured you will live to see another day. However, some people not familiar with mobile spam responded to the threat. Police have since disabled the yahoo account.
What can we do about these spammers on our phones? The ACMA says there really isn’t anything you can do but ignore it. They do however request that you send the spam to the ACMA before deleting it. They do advise not to respond or share the text message as they might be able to obtain pertinent information about you.
Unfortunately there is no silver lining cash prize, only unwanted texts that take up space and possibly cost us money.
Although mobile spam is not as prolific as email spam (with over 218 thousand cases reported to ACMA last year compared to 7 thousand with mobile spam) I feel that mobile spam is far more invasive as not only does it take up space and possibly cost us money, there is also no filter as there are for emails.
Have you been a victim of mobile spam? What are our thoughts of this increased outbreak? Does it put a dent in your day or are you so used to the unwanted texts that it doesn’t faze you anymore?

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Fax? Email? Fax to Email?

I came across a forum post with the title “Why the fax refuses to die.” This funny little title made me think, the fax has been around since 1964, and hasn’t really changed that much. You still have to suffer through that dial-up sound, it takes seemingly forever to send, and you waste paper and toner. Yet even with all the technology created up to now (i.e. email), many people still use the fax to communicate.

Although fax machines are very outdated and never considered in style, the use of a fax is still relevant. For example, people usually use faxes to communicate legal documents. Luckily with new technology there are services where you can send faxes over the internet eliminating the need for a fax machine. There is really no difference between a fax machine and an online fax service except that you do not need to have any equipment or additional phone lines. For example, instead of having to purchase an additional phone line for your fax machine, you use an internet connection.

You are probably wondering, then why don’t we just send documents via email instead of using a fax to email service?

This is a very good point; however, there are some companies that only deal with faxes. Faxes are considered more secure because they are an image and cannot be modified unlike an email. In addition, if a company does not have the same applications as you do, sending an email attachment might not be viewable on their computers. With a fax you will always be guaranteed that your recipients will be able to read the document.  Another reason for using a fax instead of emails is the use of a private email address when sending a document may not be professional or the email that you send gets sent to the spam folder or gets lost under all the other emails the recipient receives. Another point for the reason why faxes never die is that sometimes sending large files via email causes problems. Many times there are limits to the size and it takes a long time to send the email. With a fax you can send the document very quickly as you will have a larger capacity when sending.

You might ask that a fax machine is noted for privacy, but if you use a fax to email service will that privacy be compromised?

Not at all, as there are many companies that provide secure fax transmissions as if you were faxing from a regular fax machine, without of course the fax machine, paper and toner.

Although emails are much more convenient, the fax will never seem to die. At least there are services to save us the pain of the fax machine.




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Anonymous – Quest to Provide the World with Free Information.

Anonymous and WikiLeaks are very similar as both groups are information activisits. While Information was obtained by Anonymous as in the case of the Syria email leaks, WikiLeaks was the one to publish it, without revealing the affiliation, but rightly so as WikiLeaks safeguards the source. Other websites they would post to such as PasteBin or other specifically created websites that could be torn down easily as they were created.  However, Anonymous has now created their own version of WikiLeaks called Par: AnoIA, which stands for Potentially Alarming Research: Anonymous Intelligence Agency.  It is designed to host anonymous leaks and it has been said it will gain better media coverage for highly sensitive information and expose the leaks faster than Wiki. (and maybe even a bigger target for the FBI and other authroities?)

However, this website will not just house Anonymous information but material from submissions from anyone in the wider Anonymous community. In an interview with an Anonymous member, they stated that usually no one cares about leaks. With this platform, these leaks will be available for anyone that wants to do something about it.

Par: AnoIA is positioned to offer a much leaner method to lead information onto the web. Par:AnoiaOf course, another reason they decided to create Par: AnoIA was because WikiLeaks has been almost starved of an upload capability. I just visited the website, and they are currently hosting leaked Austrian Scientology emails among other information such as commercial information from the IT-service company of Innodata Isogen as well as details in relation to a Vietnamese nuclear program.

Anonymous was created in 2003 and is known as a loosely associated “hacktivist” group. Along with posting private information on the web they have also hacked into government databases all over the world including the US, and China. They have also protested against Pirate Bay when they were found guilty of facilitating extensive copyright infringement by launching a coordinated DDoS attack and stating “We will continue to attack those who embrace censorship. You will not be able to hide your ludicrous ways to control us.” They have also protested against Stop Online Piracy Act, Kony, Occupy Movement, Wanted Criminals and Scientology. It seems that now Anonymous is now moving from targeting those who impose on free speech to pedophiles on the internet. They go to say that even though they believe in free speech and a free internet, it does not advocate robbing a child of his/her innocence.

These Anonymous members go against the rules and force by action what they think a society should be. What are your thoughts on these Anonymous acts? Are they a nuisance, the new saviors for our society,  or are they not important enough to give a second thought?

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Do You BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is gaining more and more popularity in Corporate Australia. What exactly is BYOD? BYOD enables employees to use their own smartphones, tablets, computers instead of company hardware to perform work tasks. Since Australia is number 2 in the world for smartphone usage (following Singapore, who maintains the lead), it is becoming more popular for Australians to use their own devices instead of those of the company, but is this a good trend to follow?

Let’s discuss the pros and cons shall we? One of the main reasons to go ahead with a BYOD policy is the employee happiness factor. There are so many different smartphones and computers out there that each person has their own preference as to what device they prefer. In order for companies to attract the best type of people, they are starting to adopt the notion that employees can bring their own device. This, of course, fosters employee happiness and motivates employees to work their best for the company. Another pro for the company would be fewer expenses spent on purchasing and maintaining computer hardware. However, with these pros there are obvious cons that companies need to take into account. The biggest concern is company privacy. Steps need to be taken to ensure that these devices are properly secure. This means that the IT department needs to be well equipped to handle different types of devices and securing these devices.

Some aspects I feel need to be address when decided to opt for a BYOD policy are the following:

Device types: What devices should be allowed and what devices shouldn’t. To allow every type of device may be cumbersome for the IT department to manage, so establishing what criteria will be accepted with regards to devices is a good idea. I think its even a better idea when rolling out a BYOD policy to start small with only a few devices and gross as the company sees fit.

Cost management
: Although BYOD decreases the expense for purchasing computer equipment; it might increase the costs for the IT department to be furnished with the proper tools and knowledge to maintain a BYOD policy. In addition, software licensing costs might increase due to different devices being implemented.

Occupational health and safety concerns: Usually when employees encounter health and safety issues most of the time it is related to computer usage at the office, having a BYOD policy may extend companies’ responsibility around occupational health and safety into the employees personal lives. This will eventually lead to increasing liabilities therefore creating a need for new compliances.

These are just some of the considerations to look into before deciding if a BYOD policy is suitable for your company. I’d like to hear your thoughts. For employees, would you really enjoy this policy in your workplace? For business owners, would you consider the implementation of this policy?

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