Thursday, December 1, 2011

11 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Billions of dollars will be spent online over the course of this Holiday Season and unfortunately there are those that will be looking to steal some of it. Make sure you're not a victim.
There's every reason in the world to shop online. The bargains are there, the selection is mind-boggling, the shopping is secure, shipping is fast and even returns are pretty easy, with the right e-tailers. Shopping has never been easier or more convenient for consumers. But there are those bad guys who lay in wait?  eCrime Reports for 2011 indicate that phishing attacks (where thieves attempt to swindle you out of your sign-in credentials and credit card info by pretending to be a real website, or even an online bank) is down, as much as 11 percent since the third quarter of last year. That's good news, but the same report says  that sites with malware (malicious code aimed at compromising your privacy) has increased by 89 percent since the second quarter.

While somewhat alarming, these stats should not keep you from shopping online. You simply need some common sense and practical advice. Follow the following basic guidelines and you can shop online with confidence.

1. Use Familiar Websites
Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it's less likely to be a rip off. We all know and that it carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy to Home Depot. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, the sales on these sites might look enticing, but that's how they trick you into giving up your info.

2. Look for the Lock
Never ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn't have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You'll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser. Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. Ever.

3. Don't Tell All
No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them, combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information.

4. Check Statements
Don't wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don't see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal. If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway.

5. Inoculate Your PC
Swindlers don't just sit around waiting for you to give them data; sometimes they give you a little something extra to help things along. You need to protect against malware with regular updates to your anti-virus program.

6. Use Strong Passwords
We like to beat this dead horse about making sure to utilize uncrackable passwords, but it's never more important than when banking and shopping online.

7. Think Mobile
You may be one of the 5.7 percent of adults who will use their mobile devices to do comparison shopping before making a purchase. There's no real need to be any more nervous about shopping on a mobile device than online. The trick is to use apps provided directly by the retailers, like Amazon, Target, etc. Use the apps to find what you want and then make the purchase directly, without going to the store or the website.

8. Avoid Public Terminals
Hopefully, we don't have to tell you it's a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases, but we still will. If you do, just remember to log out every time you use a public terminal, even if you were just checking email.

What about using your own laptop to shop while you're out? It's one thing to hand over a credit card to get swiped at the checkout, but when you must enter the number and expiration date on a website while sitting in a public cafe, you're giving an over-the-shoulder snooper plenty of time to see the goods. At the very least, think like a gangster: Sit in the back, facing the door.

9. Privatize Your Wi-Fi
If you do decide to go out with the laptop to shop, you'll need a Wi-Fi connection. Only use the wireless if you access the Web over a virtual private network (VPN) connection.  By the way, now is not a good time to try out a hotspot you're unfamiliar with. Stick to known networks, even if they're free, like those found at Starbucks or Barnes & Noble stores that is powered by AT&T. Look for the network named "attwifi," then open a browser to click into the "walled garden" to get final access. You can also find free Wi-Fi at McDonalds, Panera Bread, and FedEx Office locations, not to mention libraries and local cafes.

10. Count the Cards
Gift cards are the most requested holiday gift every year, and this year will be no exception. Stick to the source when you buy one; scammers like to auction off gift cards on sites like eBay with little or no funds on them.

11. Know What's Too Good to Be True
Beware of the "coupon scam" offers of a free product with purchase, in particular an iPad (a very coveted gadget at any holiday) or even holiday job offers. Many of these "offers" will come in via social media. Beware even of your friends, who might innocently forward such a thing. Be very wary even if you get a message from friend claiming he or she has been robbed, especially a friend overseas looking for money to be wire transferred, unless you absolutely can confirm it by talking to him or her personally. Skepticism in most cases can go a long way toward saving you from a stolen card number.

Adapted from an article in PC Magazine By Eric Griffith  November 21, 2011

Steve Jobs – 1955-2011 – RIP

This was to be my Nov.'11 Blog message, however some how it never got published. But here it is now...

I was never a fan of Apple, but I must say that the death of Steve Jobs on Oct. 5th at the age of 56 gave me pause. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a visionary.  It is amazing to look back on his life in the technology arena.

In 1974 Jobs worked for video game maker Atari and attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Wozniak, a high school friend. Two years later they formed Apple Computer operating out of a Silicon Valley garage and the Apple I computer went on sale by the summer for $666.66.

In 1977 Apple was incorporated and they unveiled the Apple II, the first personal computer to generate color graphics. In  1980 Apple went public, raising $110 million and in 1982 annual revenue climbed to $1 billion.

In 1983, the Lisa computer (named after his daughter) went on sale with much fanfare, only to be pulled two years later. Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsico Inc. to serve as Apple's CEO. And in 1984 the Iconic "1984" Macintosh commercial directed by Ridley  Scott airs during the Super Bowl. The Macintosh computer goes on sale.

In 1985 Jobs and Sculley clashed, leading to Jobs' resignation and Steve Wozniak also resigns from Apple that year.

In 1986 Jobs started Next Inc., a new computer company making high-end machines for universities. He also bought Pixar from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas for $10 million. In 1989 the first NeXT computer went on sale with a $6,500 price tag.

In 1991 Apple and IBM Corp. announce an alliance to develop new PC microprocessors and software amd Apple unveiled a portable Mac called PowerBook. In 1993 Apple introduced the Newton, a hand-held, pen-based computer. The company reported a quarterly loss of $188 million in July and Sculley was replaced as CEO.  

In 1994 Apple introduced Power Macintosh computers based on the PowerPC chip it developed with IBM and Motorola. Apple decided to license its operating software and allow other companies to "clone" the Mac, adopting the model championed by Microsoft Corp and in 1995 the first Mac clones went on sale. Microsoft releases Windows 95, which is easier to use than previous versions and is more like the Mac system. Apple struggles with competition, parts shortages and mistakes predicting customer demand. Pixar's "Toy Story," the first commercial computer-animated feature, hits theaters. Pixar goes to Wall Street with an IPO that raises $140 million.

In 1996 Apple announced plans to buy Next for $430 million for the operating system Jobs' team developed. Jobs is appointed an adviser to Apple and the next year Jobs becomes "interim" CEO. He foreshadows the marketing hook for a new product line by calling himself "iCEO." Jobs puts an end to Mac clones.

1998 saw Apple return to profitability and shakes up personal computer industry with the candy-colored, all-in-one iMac desktop, the original models shaped like a futuristic TV. In 2000, Apple removes "interim" label from Jobs' CEO title.

Apple then went on a tear: 2001saw the first iPod goes on sale, as do computers with OS X, the modern Mac operating system based on Next software. Apple also releases iTunes software. And in 2003 Apple launched the iTunes Music Store with 200,000 songs at 99 cents each, giving people a convenient way to buy music legally online. It sells 1 million songs in the first week.

In 2004 Jobs underwnets surgery for a rare but curable form of pancreatic cancer; Apple discloses his illness after the fact.

In 2005 Apple expands the iPod line with the tiny Nano and an iPod that can play video. The company also announces that future Macs will use Intel chips.  In 2006 Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion making Jobs Disney's largest individual shareholder.

In 2007 Apple released its first smartphone, the iPhone. Crowds camp overnight at stores to be one of the first to own the new device.

2008: Speculation mounts that Jobs is ill, given weight loss and in September he kicked off an Apple event and says, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," making a play off a famous Mark Twain quote after Bloomberg News accidentally publishes, then retracts, an obituary that it had prepared in advance.

In 2009 Jobs explained his severe weight loss by saying he had a treatable hormone imbalance and that he will continue to run Apple. Days later he backtracks and announces he will be on medical leave. He returned to work in June and later it is learned that he had received a liver transplant.

In 2010 Apple sold 15 million of its newest gadget, the iPad, in nine months, giving rise to a new category of modern touch-screen tablet computers.

On Jan. 17, 2011 in a memo to Apple employees, Jobs announced a second medical leave with no set duration but Jobs retained his CEO title and remains involved in major decisions.

On Aug. 24 Apple announces that Jobs is resigning as CEO and named Jobs chairman.

On Oct. 5, 2011 Steve Jobs died at the age of 56; Apple announced his death without giving a specific cause.

Looking back, I am in awe of the technological accomplishments made at Apple under Steve Jobs leadership.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's E-Publish or E-Perish

From paper to Web to e-readers, the publishing industry embraces a digital revolution. In the wake of the Kindle Fire, it’s e-publish or die. Amazon is chiefly responsible for the largest shift in consumption of the written word since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Just this week it’s announced not just the trailblazing tablet the Kindle Fire, but three new versions of the Kindle ereader. We’ve grown accustomed to flipping through pages on our Kindles (and Nooks, iPads, and the like). Now, authors, publishing houses, and agents must explore this brave new world, too.

Mapping this uncharted land has been a rocky road for writers and retailers alike. Borders emptied its shelves just this month, Barnes & Noble has reported losses each quarter so far this year, and much of the industry is still struggling against Google’s plan to create a virtual library by scanning in millions of book titles. Add to that the accessibility of self-publishing and self-marketing, which has led to many writers bypassing the traditional publishing process altogether, and you have a horror story for some.

For others, there’s a happy ending. In the stead of the old guard are indie publishers that use new media tools to print books faster and cheaper than ever before. Authors can market themselves through social media. Self-published writers cross the one-million mark in sales.
While e-publishing might span many genres, its story is nevertheless a gripping read.

Adapted from a Sept. 29, 2011 article by Chandra Steel

Friday, September 2, 2011

Let us never forget 9-11

Let us never forget!

Ten years ago the United States was attacked by a band of radical Islamists. Thousands of innocent people died as a result of this viscous attack. To this day, the world has not been the same. Over the past ten years, these animals have threatened and attacked people in many other countries. People all over the world will continue to live in fear until these radical, so-called religious fanatics are eliminated.

World Wide Web Turned 20

Twenty years ago, on August 6, 1991, a technological revolution took place at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) facility, when Tim Berners-Lee published the first Website and forever changed how we access and share information.

An independent contractor at the time, Berners-Lee developed a basic browser that could handle hypertext, and he started the WWW (World Wide Web) project, which was intended to help users learn more about Website creation and how to browse and search for information on the new Web. The WWW has changed our society. It has helped create new business models; it has helped to bring different people and cultures together; and, above all, it has brought many changes to the relationship between the people and their governments.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) , founded in 1994, has helped to create standards to ensure that different Websites work the same way. Despite some deviations in site and browser specs, this has ensured the success and the widespread adoption of the Web. Back in 1991, Berners-Lee may have expected little more than this basic setup.

As the Web has evolved, however, Berners-Lee has focused on how Web content could be better organized; he sees the need to associate meaning to the ever-increasing amount of Web data. The "Semantic Web," as he envisions it, would enable Web servers to understand and respond to complex human requests based on their meaning.
But the concept has not been fully implemented due to many challenges, such as the vastness of the information on the Web, the ambiguity of the meaning associated with some content, the inconsistency of some information, and possible deceit from content providers, as there is always the possibility that some might try to attach wrong "semantic" information to their content in order to lure users.

Also, Berners-Lee has been denouncing how social media and other telecommunications companies are "treating" content on the Web today. In a Scientific American journal essay published last year, he described how some of the Web's "most successful inhabitants," such as Facebook and large ISPs, have begun to "chip away" at the Web's founding principles, and he warned that Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites represent "one of several threats" to the future of the World Wide Web.

Overall, though, Berners-Lee seems content with what emerged from his work. Nearly three years ago, in an article in The New York Times, Steve Lohr asked Berners-Lee what he would have changed about the Web if he was to do it again. Berners-Lee answered that he might make a small change. He would get rid of the double "//" after the "http:" in Web addresses. "Look at all the paper and trees that could have been saved if people had not had to write or type out those slashes on paper over the years -- not to mention the human labor and time spent typing those two keystrokes countless millions of times in browser address boxes." Surely, this isn't a significant regret.

Happy 20th Birthday, World Wide Web!

Based on an article by Hospice Houngbo, a former Fulbright scholar/researcher, currently a PhD student in computer science at the University of Western Ontario.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beware of Posting Pics Online via Your Phone

Watch this video --- it's potentially that important. You have no idea how vulnerable you or your family and friends can be by posting photos taken by a cell phone and posted on social media websites. Can you say G-P-S!

[Video Link]

compliments of
Boogie Jack's Newsletters

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Browser Wars: Chrome vs. IE9 vs. Firefox

Web browsers are converging. Since the arrival of Google Chrome nearly three years ago, all browsers have come under its influence, and they've all moved in the same three-pronged directions—speedier page loading, cleaner user interfaces, and greater support for new Web standards. All of the major browsers—Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera—have made significant strides in each of these three dimensions. The first two qualities are pretty much universally desirable, but the "standards" support piece, while also desirable, gets sticky: Each browser seems to support a different subset of the many features that fall under the label HTML5. All you have to do is check out each browser's HTML5 demo site. Apple's HTML5 demos, for example, flat out won't function unless you're browsing with Safari. So much for "standards."

The Speed of the Web
Along with new standard support, all browsers have posted massive improvements in page-rendering and script execution speed. You just have to look at the often-cited SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks to see this. Even Chrome, already described as "lightning fast" in December of 2008, has sped up on the test from a time of 881ms to 267ms in version 12 on my 2.6GHz dual-core laptop—that's less than a third of the time! The rest of the browsers have followed suit, clustering around the same level of performance. Mozilla and Google have built their own Javascript speed tests, Kraken and V8, respectively. When these first came out,
the maker's own browsers widely outpaced competitors, but results on these tests are also evening out.

A summary of the latest speed test results are:

Google V8 (v.6) Test: #1=Chrome 12, #2 = FireFox 5, #3 = Opera 11.50
Mozilla Krakan 1.7 Test: #1=Chrome 12, #2 = FireFox 5, #3 = Opera 11.50
SunSpider 0.9.1 Test: #1=Internet Explorer 9, #2 = Chrome 12, #3 = FireFox 5

The next frontier in browser performance is about graphics hardware acceleration. In this area, Internet Explorer and Firefox are ahead of Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari. Microsoft was the first browser maker to make an issue of hardware acceleration in the buildup to its releasing IE9. The company's site for its browser, called, sports a slew of demonstrations that show off hardware acceleration, which you can try running in any browser. On these, you can clearly see IE and Firefox's lead in hardware acceleration.

On the FishIE demo, which uses Canvas and Javascript to display swimming tropical fish, Chrome delivered 40 frames per second with 20 fish and 5 FPS with 500 fish. Since both Firefox 4 and IE9 use hardware acceleration for more than just future 3D content, they score the maximum 60 FPS with 20 fish, but IE still beats Firefox with 500 fish. Chrome was, however, better than Opera, which only mustered 20FPS and 3FPS.

Another IE9 demo, Psychedelic Browsing, spins a color wheel and plays spacy sounds, reporting RPM as a result. Surprisingly, Firefox beats Microsoft at its own game here by a tad, though it doesn't play the required sound. Chrome, however, plays the test's required sound, but fares far worse in the revolutions per minute result.

One final test of hardware acceleration comes from Mozilla, its Hardware Acceleration Stress test, which spins a spiral of photos in the browser window and reports a score in frames per second.

A summary of the latest hardware acceleration test results are:

FishIE (w/20 fish) Test: #1 = Internet Explorer 9, #2 = FireFox 4, #3 = Chrome 12
Psychedelic Browser Test: #1 = FireFox 4, #2 = Internet Explorer 9, #3 = Chrome 12
Mozilla HW Accel Stress Test: #1 = FireFox 4, #2 = Internet Explorer 9, #3 = Chrome 12

Additional information about browser HTML 5 Standards support, Privacy and Security, and Extras and Goodies (extensions) are discussed in the PC magazine article by Michael Muchmore upon which this blog content is based and that can be found @,2817,2389249,00.asp

In the end, I will continue to develop websites that firstly conform to Internet Explorer (IE) standards. This is because IE continues to be the browser used buy the majority of people accessing the Internet. The increasing popularity and growth in usage of Chrome and FireFox can not be ignored and I will make every effort to insure the best possible compatibility with these browsers as well.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ICANN Approves New Top-Level Domains --- Prepare For .Whatever

A number of not very descriptive top-level domains (TLDs): .com, .net, .org, as well as country-specific TLDs are what the web is currently made of, but this is about to change drastically.

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the international authority over top-level domain names, has approved the expansion of generic TLDs which will allow companies and organizations to create domains for their brands (such as .coke) or simply create generic names (such as .car or .green).

This option won’t come cheap, though: The application fee alone is $185,000, and the annual fee is $25,000. Still, you can imagine large corporations spending millions on these very soon. If you’re in the business of making phones, owning a “.phone” TLD sounds like a great idea — if you can afford outbidding other phone manufacturers.

“ICANN has opened the Internet’s addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination,” said Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of ICANN. “No one can predict where this historic decision will take us.” We can safely predict one thing: Expect lots of legal disputes over company trademarks with regard to new TLDs.

Applications for new generic TLDs will be accepted from January 12, 2012, to April 12, 2012. New domains should appear within a year.

This will become a game changer for sure. The cost is high for a individual or small business, but for a major corporation it is chump change. The ability to set up a social network, community with your own TLD is priceless! Marketing directors around the WORLD are salivating right now.

Once you own a TLD, can you sell URLs to third parties? I imagine the person who swoops in and buys “.beer” or “.fashion” will have a lot of offers…

Based on a 6/20/11 article by Stan Schroeder

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Factors Contributing to Poor Websites

Here are a number of factors that will contribute to poor websites, most especially if any of these factors appear on ones home page. Remember you can’t undo first impressions.

1. Image maps/icons unfamiliar to viewers
2. Drop-down menus that obscure important information
3. Inconsistent use of Caps and lower case
4. Using too many colors
5. Distracting images with barely legible text overlaid on them
6. Poor formatting and vertically scrolling links
7. Tiny screen-shots
8. Unclear/vague link/menu titles
9. Bad use of or too much white space
10. Using a long sentence/paragraph as a link
11. Too much text distracting from images/links
12. Too many varied fonts
13. Too many blue links
14. Too busy/distracting background images
15. Text heavy and shadow-boxed graphics (dated…)

If your website suffers from any of these conditions, APT Web Design can help apply remedial action in order to improve the quality and perception of your website.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Basic Search Engine Optimization Tips

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to gaining more traffic to your website. When people search for information today, they don’t open up the phonebook, the dictionary or the newspaper. Whatever they are trying to find out, they head straight to the search engines. Therefore, if you want to improve your business’s presence it’s all about getting found in the results of the search engines.

That’s what SEO is designed to do. Basically, search engine optimization incorporates everything related to getting your site’s positioning improved within the search engines. If you can make it to the first page of Google, and eventually the number 1 spot on the page, you will see a whirlwind of traffic to your site. You’ll have more prospects and new customers than you know what to do with.

So how do you go about using SEO for your site in order to see better results? While the concept itself seems simple, there are actually many individual components that you have to consider. In addition, the world of search engine optimization is fluid, dynamic and constantly evolving. That means you have to stay on top of all of the latest changes and trends if you want to experience and maintain success.

The first step to the SEO process is researching your market. You need to find the keywords and key phrases that people use to search for information related to the products you sell, the industry that you’re in or the general market that you serve. These keywords are the foundation of what you will be doing with SEO, and you have to find the ones that are popular and widely used without being overly competitive.

Another step of research pertains to looking into your competition. You have to see how much competition there is in your market and for specific terms and phrases, and you have to see how strong that competition is. In addition, you should browse your competitors’ websites to see what you like about them and don’t like about them. Don’t be afraid to borrow from their strengths and learn from their mistakes when creating or optimizing your own site.

Now that you have performed the research itself, you actually have to go about the search engine optimization process. There are many different tactics and strategies here. The most basic of which is incorporating those keywords you found into the content of your page. Be careful not to stuff them in there excessively because you’ll end up looking like spam both to the search engines and to your visitors. Instead work your keywords in naturally so that you can become associated with those specific phrases.

There are also many offsite optimization steps you need to take to really maximize your results. These include establishing your presence in online communities related to your business and also link building. The more links you have, and the better they are in terms of where they come from, the more credibility your website will gain. This will raise your site’s ranking dramatically in the search engines.

This is just a basic overview of some of what’s involved in SEO. The foundation of good SEO work is really research, researching both your market and your competition. From there you’ll have many different factors to consider, including keyword inclusion and link building. Ultimately, proper SEO holds the key to your business succeeding in the online environment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reports of Windows' Death Greatly Exaggerated

Much of the talk about the immenent death of Microsoft Windows is mostly based on sales figures for all end-user devices and relative numbers of page reads by different browsers and operating systems. If Information Technology's responsibilities were based on the number of end-user devices sold and on browser page reads, this would be interesting information.

IT's responsibilities, though, have a lot more to do with applications business users rely on to get work done. When you look in this direction, you get a very different bead on things. Let's check out infrastructure first -- in particular, the server OS, DBMS, app server, Web server, development kit, email, and content/document management solution. While IT has choices for all of these, Microsoft doesn't just continue to matter here; rather, it's probably the most innovative force in the industry in this space right now -- except in its ability to explain itself. The infrastructure story for Microsoft is excellent products coupled with incoherent storytelling.

Then there's the end-user computing environment (what's usually mislabeled the "client"). What a lot of analysts miss is quite simple and basic: Microsoft Office file formats are the industry de facto standard, and no amount of de jure standards setting will change that any time soon. Thus, any business that has to exchange documents with other companies has to use Microsoft Office, because the best any competitor can say is that its product can read and write Microsoft Office files.

That isn't the same thing as rendering them properly, and the fact of the matter is, no matter which Office competitor you use, it will scramble Word documents that do any serious formatting at all. As for PowerPoint, you have no idea just how bizarre the results can be until you try running a PowerPoint animation in a competitor's piece of software.

Every version of Windows Mobile so far has been at least one step behind the industry, and there's no hint yet that Microsoft has the ability to leapfrog its competition in the mobile arena. It's natural to figure Microsoft's presence in mobile computing is and will be limited to laptops, which will remain the portable devices of choice for those who plan to do serious work that requires a keyboard for quite a while.

Bottom-line: The increased importance of other platforms represents an expansion of what IT will be responsible for, not a substitution. Windows and Microsoft will be important for a number of years yet -- but so will other platforms and players..

Adapted from Bob Lewis’s story, originally published at 3/11/11

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Most Browsers Have Known Vulnerabilities

Roughly 80% of browsers today are insecure, owing to their having a known vulnerability either in the browser itself, or due to a vulnerable plug-in, such as an outdated version of Shockwave, Flash, the Java runtime environment, or QuickTime.

That finding comes from research conducted by vulnerability management and security policy compliance vendor Qualys. The results are based on the 200,000 people who, over the past 6 months, used the company's free BrowserCheck tool, which looks for known vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera browsers, running on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux machines.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, more than half of browser vulnerabilities stem from plug-ins. "The number was very high for the plug-ins, higher than I had expected," said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, in an email interview.

The most common insecure browser plug-ins in use are (in order): Java, Adobe Reader, QuickTime, Flash, Shockwave, and Windows Media Player. Many of these plug-ins are widespread -- 97% of computers have the Adobe Flash plug-in installed, and 95% have one for Windows Media Player.

Meanwhile, only about 20% of browsers are insecure due to the native browser application (not counting plug-ins). Kandek said that's testament to browser makers' structured approach to updates, which includes alerting users or simply updating browsers automatically when a new version becomes available.

Unfortunately, few plug-ins auto-update. Accordingly, it's up to IT departments to secure them. "Focus attention on the plug-ins of the browsers, determine if plug-ins are actually necessary, [and] look for plug-ins that have an update program," said Kandek.

Some good news from this study, while 80% of consumers today are using insecure browsers, that's down from a high of nearly 90% in June 2010. What accounts for the improvement? "A number of factors play a role for the small decline, but we have seen good acceptance of the new Adobe Reader X, which has reduced the exposure for PDF users in general," said Kandek.

Adapted from Mathew J. Schwartz article, InformationWeek Feb. 23, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Key Factors 4 a Good Website

Making a website is easy. But making the “perfect” website takes more work than a simple use of html. Therefore we see a lot of poor websites that have bad design, wrong text, boring content etc. So here are the key factors that make the difference between a bad website and the perfect website.
• Name of the website:
Your page title should speak for you. Page title should not be too long and should be content based. The title should go with the content and the topic of the page. The title should be descriptive enough so that the users are not misled.
• The Content:
The content must be interesting and useful to the user. The content should engage visitors and keep on making them come back for more. Nice graphics and icons cannot hold back visitors if the content is bad. They might get offended and never visit the website again, so the matter must be good enough for the users to visit again and again.
Proper Spelling and Grammar:
Incorrect spelling and grammatical mistake can ruin a web site completely. So it is better check it before somebody else catches you mistakes.
• Proper Layout:
Now comes the layout part. The layout must be simple and clear. As all the browsers are not same so before launching the web site it must be tested. Proper use of font size is another thing you should keep in your mind. Always try to use the standards/popular font, over using of images can make the website look very messy and cheap. Website must look simple; the simpler it will be the more it will be soothing to the eyes.
• Quantity of the Page:
It is not an essay or article which should be lengthy or boring; it is web content so it must be short yet full of information and interesting. Articles and web content are two different things. You can write a very long article but writing for web content is completely different. Web content should be brief and short. The normal index page should be the ideal length of the page; the page should carry proper information which the users need.
• Using Appropriate Keywords for “links”:
Use proper keywords for links; use innovative, catchy words rather than words such as “click here”, only then will it attract the users. Link should not go beyond the content of your site, so the link must be a part of your content. So choose a standard link for your page.
• Helping the users:
Getting the proper feedback from the users is a very important and crucial part for every web site developer. Sometimes users can encounter a problem while surfing your site, so you must be ready to help your users to rectify their problem and clear the doubts. This can be done by another link, the “contact us” link, which aims to serve the users helping them to enjoy surfing the site in a better way.

These factors can go a long way in making your website perfect!

Monday, January 10, 2011

High Quality Web Design is Important

There once was a time on the Internet when web design wasn’t very important. Maybe a decade ago or so, the main thing you had to do was just have a website. That factor alone would give you a strong advantage in the marketplace, and you’d have a leg up on your competition who didn’t yet make the move to the online realm. However, those times have long since passed. Now merely having a website isn’t enough. You need to make use of high quality web design to help your business stand out, attract new customers and ultimately be successful on the Internet.

One factor playing into this is that the Internet has expanded greatly over the years. Now nearly every business has a website or multiple online presences, and millions of individuals do as well. That means that there is a huge supply of competition, and it also means that the bar has been raised in terms of what quality web design actually is. Today, if you have an unattractive website or one that doesn’t operate easily you are going to scare away all of your visitors and you’ll lose out on all of that extra money.

Your web design needs to be setup in such a way that the most important information is easily found, and all of the pages can be quickly navigated between. Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor who comes to your site. What are they really seeking out, and how can you provide that for them? It’s about meeting their needs by implementing specific solutions.

Web design will help you take any website visitor and draw that person into the path you want them to take. If you’re trying to sell a product, it should be simple and intuitive to continue to make an order. If you want people to send you an email for a quote, getting to that online form has to be as easy as possible. Whatever your goals are, you need to use your web design to bring people to that.

Of course, being attractive and visually pleasing is important in and of itself. A site that has contrasting colors or a poor layout or scheme isn’t going to draw much attention or interest. More often than not people will see a bad looking website and they will just click immediately on the back button. That’s because the site sends off vibes that it is unprofessional, it doesn’t care or perhaps it doesn’t know any better.

None of that is any good to try to establish your brand and your image, or to find new customers and prospects. Therefore an aesthetically pleasing website is extremely important. It will add value to your image and it will make you seem professional and trustworthy.

As you can see, high quality web design plays a huge role in your online success. A poorly designed website will send your visitors running off as they have difficulty finding what they are looking for, as they don’t appreciate the quality or appearance of your website and as you fail to successfully convert them in the ways that you’d like to. Therefore, take all steps necessary to ensure that your website has a unique, top notch web design.

Adapted from a Sept.’10 article found in Reblog