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8 posts tagged tech

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 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!

Summer is here!

The sun has got his hat on! In this weather, you want to get out of the house, hit the beach, relax in the park, dance the night away at festivals and generally shake off all of the remaining winter blues. Getting out into the sun presents a few extra challenges with your tech. The beach, for example,  is full of hazards for your camera, tablet or MP3 player. Sea, sand and sun may be great for you, but they aren’t necessarily the best for your treasured gadgets. 

Below, we’ve listed a few of our favourite pieces of summer tech to make your time in the sun even better. Enjoy!

Waterproof camera 

When you’re by the beach, in the park or by the pool, you want your camera at the ready so you can look back on winter and remember just how fun summer is. However, where there’s water, there’s danger for your gadgets. 

The Olympus TG-310 removes this danger. Waterproof to a depth of 3m,  able to take a drop of 1.5m and made to withstand temperatures as low as -10c, the TG-310 is your perfect poolside companion. 

Available for around £100, it has 14 megapixels, a 3.6x optical zoom and all sorts of effects to play with. A great buy for summer. 

The X-Mini II Portable Speaker

While the portable speaker market is a crowded one, we’re constantly amazed by the X-Mini II. In terms of price it can’t really be touched. £13-£20 will buy you a speaker that charges by USB, lasts for hours, has surprisingly good bass and is great for playing music in the park. 

Where the X-Mini II gets even better is its ability to daisychain. Buy two or more of the speakers and you can hook them up, effectively doubling the volume without compromising on sound quality. 

Yes, there are better quality speakers out there – though the build of the X-Mini II is very solid – however for this money you’d be mad to miss it. 

Kindle 3

The Kindle is perhaps an obvious choice here, but it’s not just one of our favourite pieces of summer kit, it’s one of our favourites year-round. The £89 version will give you a 6” screen, let you store around 1,400 books at any one time and a full battery charge will last up to a month. 

The fact that you don’t need to cram your suitcase with books for the beach means the Kindle is ideal for taking on holiday, and the crystal clear E Ink display is impervious to glare from the sun, meaning you can read your Kindle in all conditions. 

Solio Universal solar charger

If you’re out in the great outdoors for a whole day, you’re unlikely to see any power outlets. This means your phone, MP3 player or camera batteries are more than likely to die on you, leaving you without music, photos or – more seriously – any means to call anyone in an emergency. 

In steps the Solio Universal solar charger. Its award winning design makes it light enough to carry around with you anywhere, it’s durable, weather resistant and an hour of sunshine will give you an hour’s worth of playback or ten minutes of talk time. You’ll never need to worry about your battery letting you down again. 

Tech Fixes You Wouldn’t Necessarily Think Of

We’ve all been there; your tech is damaged or won’t work, you don’t have any fancy specialist equipment in the house and you don’t know what to do. Well, have no fear. There are a number of things you may have lying around that can help you get your tech back into tip top shape. Here’s a few of our favourite repair methods you may not have thought of. 

Hard drive in the freezer

Has your hard drive given up the ghost? Act quickly and you won’t necessarily lose all of your files. Head to the kitchen and grab a couple of – good quality – sealable sandwich bags. Place the hard drive in a sandwich bag, then in another. You really, really want to prevent any moisture getting into the bags. 

Once the hard drive has been in the freezer for around 12 hours, take it out, put it into your computer and as if by magic it will boot. Take off the files you need quickly as the drive will almost inevitable crash again. Repeat the process as necessary. 

The cold compresses parts of the drive that may have spun out of shape, or begun to rub, hence breathing short lived new life into your damaged drive. This is, however, an emergency 

Waterlogged phone in rice

We’ve discussed this fix before on the blog, however it’s one of our favourites, and something we’ve all had to use at some point in our phone-owning lives. 

If you drop your phone in the bath, the sink or the pool – or if you spill your drink all over it – all is not lost. Firstly, do not under any circumstances attempt to turn the phone on. 

Open the phone up and drain the excess fluid immediately, taking out the battery and SIM card. Run to the kitchen and grab a Tupperware and some rice. Fill the Tupperware with rice, throw the phone in, pushing it well into the rice, and leave overnight. The rice will absorb the liquid left in the phone and – hopefully at least – will restore it to its former glory. 

Vaseline on Screen

Got an unsightly scratch on your phone or MP3 player screen? Annoying, isn’t it? Don’t worry, your favourite lip moisturizer is on hand to help. 

Dip a tissue in a small amount of Vaseline and wipe it on the affected area. Once liberally applied, use a clean tissue to buff the screen, ensuring the Vaseline is all gone and you should notice that the scratch is far less visible than when you started. Ok, it won’t repair the screen, but it makes a difference without costing a fortune. 

Vodka on a DVD or CD

If you’re finding that the movie you’re trying to watch is skipping, or won’t play, it may be that the disc is too dirty for the laser in your DVD or Bluray player to read. 

Instead of using a t-shirt to wipe the grime off, potentially making the situation worse, grab a bottle of vodka. Take a swig (only joking) – take a soft, clean towel and drip half a measure of the vodka onto a small area. Use this vodka soaked towel to clean the disc in small circular motions. The alcohol will remove any grease that has found its way onto your disc, and you’ll be free to watch or listen in peace. 

Twitter Tips for avoiding spam

We were delighted to be featured on Leader Post this week, with our article on protecting yourself from spam on Twitter.  Take a look:

Twitter continues to be a breeding ground for cybercriminals. Just this week a wave of twitter spam emerged which infected 500+ Twitter accounts in just hours, a media release from Virgin Group says. These tweets were designed to look like helpful links to check for viruses and spyware. Instead, victims were forced to install spyware that stole their personal data while hijacking their Twitter accounts to push more spam out to their followers.

Virgin Group’s new Virgin Digital Help service offers the following tips:

You account has been hijacked when:

1. Tweets you didn’t post appear on your profile;

2. There’s a drastic change in your number of followers;

3. You get an email from Twitter notifying you of account changes you didn’t make.

If you encounter any of the above:

1. Change your password;

2. Check the “Applications Tab” under your account settings and revoke any unrecognized third-party apps;

3. Delete any unauthorized tweets and scan your computer with a TRUSTED antivirus vendor (www.avgfree.com is a free option)

To defend against such attacks:

1. Don’t click on links in Tweets and DMs from people you don’t normally interact with;

2. If a link in a Tweet or DM is simply too irresistible (“Is this you in this photo?”), discard it;

3. Make sure your security software is up to date.

Virgin Digital Help’s Weekend Briefing

Here at VDH we like to be on top of the latest technology news.  Therefore we’ve put together this weekend briefing of all the interesting things that have happened in tech over the last week. 

We hope you enjoy it, and would love to hear your feedback. 

Amazon releases Kindle Touch

The much lauded e-reader Kindle has this week seen the release of its latest iteration, the Kindle Touch.  This new version will be available from the 27th April throughout Europe, five months after it launched in the US. New features of this Kindle include a web browser, touchscreen capability and an exclusive ‘x-ray’ feature, which allows users to find passages in a book quickly and simply. The Kindle Touch will cost £109 with wifi, and £169 with wifi and 3G. 

Facebook ready to switch over to timeline

For the last month Facebook users have been able to opt in to Facebook’s new timeline format, and at 7pm GMT tonight all users will be transferred to this new design.  While commentary of the new design has been mixed, frequent users of Facebook have found it a welcome addition.  What are your thoughts - will this improve the Facebook experience? 

Google set to launch own online store for tablets

In a move that is believed to rival Apple, Google today is rumoured to be set to launch its own online store to sell Google branded tablets. With iPads still dominating the tablet market, this is a brave move by the company, and shows their desire to be real contenders in the tablet market. 

Is this the end of the BlackBerry?

Popular smartphone BlackBerry’s owner RIM has suffered reports today that it is pulling out the consumer market, giving teenagers the world over cause for concern.  One of the most popular smartphones before the release of the iPhone, BlackBerry has been consistently dogged by poor service reports and security concerns. 

Only time will tell if BlackBerry exit the consumer market completely, but we’ll be sure you’re the first to know. 

Have a great weekend!

Top Five from CES

Last week saw 3,100 companies descend on Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012, one of the world’s most venerated expos for new tech, gadgets and other assorted electrical wizardry that set tech press tongues wagging and filled a million Christmas lists 12 months in advance. 

In total, over 20,000 products were showcased. We’ve been following the announcements closely, and have put together a quick roundup of what we think are the five coolest pieces of kit announced this year. 

Razer ‘Project Fiona’ Gaming Tablet 



(Image: Technabob)

This 10.1 inch Windows tablet is currently a prototype, however reports from CES seem to suggest that it’s not too far from completion. Essentially, Project Fiona is a tablet built to play games. The analogue controllers stuck to the edges solve a lot of the problems of tablet gaming, and while the specs are a closely guarded secret, it’s clearly capable of playing graphic rich games with ease. 

Question marks over battery life and upgrades aside, we’re very excited about Project Fiona’s fabulous tech and practical common sense. One to watch in 2012. 

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