Exciting new tech in 2013

We are now living in the future. We carry around in our pockets more computing power than NASA used to send an actual man to the actual moon. This is mesmerizing stuff, and it’s only getting more exciting. We’ve listed below the tech that we’re most excited about in 2013. If you think we’ve missed anything, let us know over on Twitter!

Google Glasses

(image: abcnews)

The Google Glass project is Google’s claim being staked on the world of augmented reality, and it’s incredibly exciting. The glasses are essentially a very advanced smartphone with two screens, one over each eye. By wearing them, you can mix real life with online literally in the blink of an eye. Overlay maps on your real life location, compare prices on an item in several stores just by looking at it, video calls as you walk, hands free. Our examples seem quite tawdry, but take our word for it, Google Glasses (on sale this year for a cool $1,500) are going to be incredible. 

Apple Watch

(image: ibtimes)

Bloomberg recently reported that Apple have a team of 100 people working on a wristwatch that would perform a lot of the tasks carried out by iPhones and iPads. Made from toughened, super slim glass and will mean you can leave the house wearing a pretty powerful computer, which is pretty cool in anyone’s book

3D Printing Pen

(image: 3doodler)

3D printing has been receiving more and more attention over the past 12 months as people get to grips with the awesome idea of being able to build things at home that normally would have to be bought from whichever supplier. 3D printing is obviously very exciting, and a (admittedly gimmicky) offshoot we saw this week was the outstanding 3D printing pen. Look at it! 

Super Thin OLED

(image: softpedia)

This was big news through 2012, and we’re still awaiting an affordable version, but super thin screens have a myriad of uses that, normally, we wouldn’t even consider. Take the aforementioned Apple Watch as an example. How do you make a screen thin enough to sit on someone’s watch? OLED!  This technology Is going to worm its way into tonnes of inventions this year, and we can’t wait

Pick your password

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a number of high profile cases of big brands on Twitter having their accounts compromised. First Jeep, then Burger King had their accounts hacked into due to simple passwords that luckily did no lasting damage other than leaving them publicly embarrassed – you may not be so fortunate. 

(image: zdnet)

If you use the same password for every account, you leave yourself incredibly vulnerable to identity theft and more – especially if you use the same account across your online banking. 

Entering your email and standard password to a new service gives that service access to every single one of your accounts. 99% of services asking for these details are above board, however if you accidentally fall victim to the other 1% and your password is the same for your banking, social networks and emails then you are giving unscrupulous types free reign over your life online. 

(image: mozilla)

When choosing a password, mix up numbers and letters. Rather than ‘password’, use ‘pa33w0rd’. Also mix lower and upper case letters, ‘pa33W0rD’.  A lot of services test your password for you upon sign up, make sure you pay attention. Only use a password that is highly rated and, though it can be a pain, use a different password for every site. 

We’ll never be able to stop cyber criminals, but we can make it as difficult as possible to prey on us

Christmas goodies for the tech lover in your life

Have you bought your Christmas presents yet? If not, you’re cutting it a little fine. The ‘delivery by Christmas’ date is getting closer and closer, and high street shopping at this time of year is only for the iron willed. 

Don’t panic though. We’ve had a thorough look through the internet and have found a few gifts – from stocking filler upwards – for the tech lover in your life. If you think we’ve missed anything out, let us know on Twitter!

Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver

Tired of plugging your phone into your doc and having to clamber off the couch every time you receive a notification? Well, those days are a thing of the past with the Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver. Simply plug it into your stereo system and stream music via Bluetooth from over 30 feet away. 

Available for around £30 from Amazon

Touchscreen Gloves

One of the worst things about the touchscreen revolution is the constant removal of gloves to check emails, texts, Facebook updates and so on. Touchscreen gloves mean an end to chilly fingers in winter, but they can often look cheap and lack quality. Not any more, with these attractive touchscreen gloves from Muji. 

Available for £12.95 from Muji.

Waterproof iPad Case

iPads are amazing things to have around, they look great, their functionality is arguably unparalleled in the tablet market and – naturally – they cost a fortune. If you know anyone who is around water a lot – or is just clumsy – consider a completely waterproof iPad case. You’re not just buying a case, you’re buying piece of mind. 

Available for £82.50 from Outdoor GB.

Whistle Key Finder

Another one for clumsy or forgetful types, this stocking filler is perfect for those who lose their keys with alarming regularity. When keys become lost, simply whistle. The key ring’s sensor will hear the sound and start beeping, allowing for easy locating. If they’re at home and have left their keys in the office, their whistling will at least prove entertaining for those around them.

Available for £7.99 at IWOOT.

Kobo eReader

There are plenty of eReaders on the market, lots of which are very good – so why the Kobo? Well, it’s £60 and comes preloaded with 100 classic books for free, as well as being WiFi enabled. It’s a lot of bang for the buck, as they say. It does everything you want an eReader to do at a price that won’t make you baulk. 

Available for £59.99 from House of Fraser

Password Dos and Don’ts

The importance of using varied, strong passwords is one that really can’t be understated. If you use the same password across the board, all it takes is for one site to be compromised and your personal details, money and reputation can be in immediate jeopardy. 

There have been countless studies and reports on the importance of good online passwords, and most of them present some pretty shocking facts. For example:

In spite of this, 73% of people use their online banking password elsewhere, and 60% of people use the same password across multiple sites. 

In order to be safe, you have to think complicated. ‘12345678’ and ‘password’ remain two of the most used passwords on the internet, and are nowhere near secure enough to protect your personal information. 

Here’s a few tips to stick to when creating your next password:

  • Mix letters and numbers – an alphanumeric password is much tougher to crack than just letters. Change ‘letmein’ to ‘l3tm31n’, for example. 
  • Mix cases – alternate between lower and upper case letters
  • Use different passwords for each site – this may be a pain, but it’s the best way to keep your personal information protected

If you find you can’t keep track of your passwords, you can always click ‘forgot password’ on the sites you visit and have a reset code delivered to your email address. Or you can use a Password Manager to keep everything safe and in one place.  Whatever you do, make sure you beef up your security and make it as hard as possible for those attempting to gain access to your accounts. 

Virgin Digital Help Virus Guide: ZeroAccess Virus

Viruses come in a range of shapes and sizes. Some are fairly benign – they’ll pop ads up, make your computer run slowly and not much else. Some, however, you really don’t want to mess with. The ZeroAccess virus is one of them. 

(Image: Precise Security)

If you’re unlucky enough to fall foul of ZeroAccess, you may experience a slow computer, files that won’t open, regular disconnections from the internet, corrupted files and drivers and worse. 

As with other viruses, you can pick up the ZeroAccess virus from just about anywhere. Watching videos online, downloading P2P files, clicking on banner ads that you don’t trust – even with common sense, we can all be unlucky. A few steps to follow to keep as safe as possible are:

  • Avoid downloading software from torrent and peer-to-peer programs 
  • Keep your antivirus updated 
  • Refrain from answering random online surveys 
  • Delete temporary files 
  • Do not open suspicious emails that have attachments

If you have followed all of this steps and have still been unlucky enough to be lumbered with ZeroAccess, call in the experts. In the long run, you’ll be happy you did. 

Virgin Digital Help Virus Guide: Twitter Spam

Are you a tweeter? Do you love the constant, immediate stream of information to which you have access 24 hours a day? If so, you may have been followed by some accounts that seem unusual. They may have no bio, they may just tweet links constantly. They may even tweet completely incomprehensible, baffling nonsense (though a lot of normal accounts do this too). 

These accounts are Spambots. They are created with the intention of luring you into clicking the links they tweet out, which then take you to scam sites or worse, malware. 

If you’re followed by one of these accounts, Twitter has a ‘block and report for spam’ feature that you should click immediately to prevent other users from being tricked. 

Never, under any circumstances, click a link you don’t trust on Twitter. Even a user who you do trust could have been hacked, meaning they send out links without their knowledge. Always ensure you keep your mobile antivirus updated, just in case. 

If you do click one of these links, the consequences can be pretty bad. You’ll immediately lose your social credibility, which is bad enough, but you could also find that malware gets onto your phone, stealing your details, adding charges to your phone bill and more. 

Twitter is fun, but make sure you stay safe! 

Virgin Digital Help on Mashable

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier — that is, until something goes wrong. While only about a third of people say that technology as a whole stresses them out, that figure more than doubles when it comes to specific technologies, according to a new study.

The top three stress-producers are related to connecting to the Internet. Respondents say problems with Wi-Fi caused the most stress (12.4%), followed by “the cloud” at (11.4%) and then trouble with networking and syncing devices (10%). When any of these three or a combination goes awry, you can’t get to the information you need.”

Via @Mashable http://mashable.com/2012/07/23/most-stressful-technologies/

VDH: What causes you digital stress?

Everyday tech stresses us out! Don’t get mad, get help!

For the last month we have been conducting an ongoing survey to find out how everyday tech can raise your stress levels and today we’re proud to reveal the results! We’ve made an infographic to showcase the results - what do you think?

Over 60% of respondents said everyday technology stresses them out, citing computers, printers and social networking as the main bugbears.

“According to our Digital Stress survey, most consumers do not believe they are digitally stressed by technology until they are reminded or presented with specific technical issues they cannot resolve on their own,” said VDH’s Director Mustafa Khanbhai. 

“While today’s technology brings so much in terms of efficiency and connectivity, the results from our survey also suggest that our embrace of the latest gadgets are not always as seamless as we’d like them to be.” 

So what do you think? Does everyday tech wear you out? Let us know and we’ll give you a hand!

VDH Virus Guide: Digital Currency

The internet carries its own currencies. Zynga Coins, Facebook Credits and XBOX Points are all online equivalents of cold hard cash that can be used to buy virtual goods, enhancing gaming, social networking and a bundle of other activities that require some sort of monetary outlay to be made complete. 

Well, you probably don’t need us to tell you that exchanging cash online is fraught with danger. If you buy any of the above – or the more anonymous Bitcoins – you should be vigilant at all times. As with anywhere money is exchanged, thieves are ready and willing to dip into your pocket. 

The modus operandi of our online currency thief is simple. A Trojan virus is added to your computer when you download some seemingly innocuous software. That Trojan, over time, mines your Bitcoins – for example – account, slowly taking currency here and there, delivering it back to the creator of the virus without them having to do a thing. 

This really hammers home the fact that we all must be careful when downloading anything. If you don’t know or trust the source, avoid it. Trojans can be completely symptomless, working away in the background while you are blissfully unaware. 

In order to stay safe:

  • Ensure you understand how the currency works and the possible implications should your digital wallet be a target for cybercriminals. 
  • Do not use your Bitcoins address if your account has been compromised. 
  • Keep active tabs on your digital purse. 
  • Stay away from phishing emails and security updates you haven’t specifically sought out to download.

If you get caught out, you can start to lose real currency, and cybercriminals will have access to your personal information, meaning things could get a lot worse. 

Virgin Digital Help Virus Guide: QR Codes

Do you scan QR codes? They’re the square, pixelated symbols you may have seen in magazines, shops, restaurants and on products you’ve bought in shops. Scan them with your phone and you will be taken to a website, shown an image or linked to a video. Usually, these links, images and videos give you more information on whatever the QR code relates to. Sometimes, however, they can lead you to something more sinister altogether. 

Due to the fact that you can’t see what the QR code hides, it’s the perfect means for malware developers to get their software onto your device. The link the QR code takes you to could be for anything, and you wouldn’t know until it was too late. 

If you do scan something you shouldn’t, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained charges appearing on your bill
  • SMS messages being sent to premium numbers

You also risk malware stealing personal information and tracking your passwords and login details. 

You can safeguard yourself in a number of ways:

  • Always keep an antivirus program on your smartphone. There are a number of reliable programs from reputable brands around, so make sure you’re protected
  • Don’t scan QR codes that are just lying around. If they’ve been stuck on an advert or handed to you in the street, you have no way of knowing what they’re really for 
  • If something is downloaded, delete it immediately

QR codes are, essentially, pretty cool things. They provide an amazing link between offline and online, and can be programmed to lead pretty much anywhere. Make sure you stay safe, and you can have as much QR related fun as you like.