Categories
Top 10

Weekly Top Ten #13

Hey All,

Happy Friday! Here are our Top 10 finds for this past week. I hope everyone is staying safe and not going crazy at home. This is the lucky issue #13. Hey, if 13 was lucky enough for Dan Marino then it’s lucky here too!

This batch is a good one.

  1. Sony patents a cute robot for keeping you company while gaming (TechRadar)
    Innovation is everywhere.
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 could have a much bigger battery than the Galaxy Note 10
    I have the Note 9 and love it. The battery is already fantastic. I expect the 10 was an improvement, but if Samsung can improve battery-life even more, that’s excellent. I’m drooling over this phone.
  3. Uber adds retail and personal package delivery services as COVID-19 reshapes its business
    This is a smart way to pivot and provide your drivers with a source of revenue.
  4. The Best COVID-19 Tracking Apps and Websites (How To Geek)
    These are vetted resources from a trustworthy site. We have to watch out for sites and resources with false or misleading information.
  5. What Is Credential Stuffing? (and How to Protect Yourself) (How To Geek)
    A very important FYI.
  6. Mark Zuckerberg explains plans for Facebook health surveys to research and combat coronavirus (ABC)
    It is good to see that there is actually some value to Facebook, especially during this crazy time.
  7. ‘It all starts to blur together’: Zoom fatigue is here (Digiday)
    I for one love how the Internet has brought us all closer. I also have been noticing that there is definitely fatigue with connecting with others , not just on Zoom, but other platforms as well. Many of us weren’t this social before the crisis. Ina Fried in her Axios Login newsletter made a good point: “Zoom is exhausting because, right now, everything is exhausting.”
  8. In major shift, Google Shopping opens up to free product listings (Search Engine Land)
    This is big news. Now smaller shops who couldn’t afford to pay to be in Google Shopping can benefit.
  9. SMX Overtime: Here’s why optimizing images in Google My Business is important (Search Engine Land)
    A very good article on how to optimize your images to get the most out of Google My Business.
  10. Adapting your content strategy to changing times (Yoast)
    The Yoast team always puts out helpful content. This is some of their best.
Categories
A New World

Using Tech To Get Your Business Through This Pandemic

Unfortunately this pandemic isn’t going anywhere fast. As the world scrambles to deal with the health ramifications of Covid-19, many businesses big and small are hurting.

Life isn’t what it used to be. You can’t go out to a restaurant and safely at a dinner with friends and family. You NEED to wear a mask when you go out to protect not only yourself, but others. Because of the abundance of caution, which is justified I might add, many businesses are seeing red. Business is drying up. In order to survive they need to think outside the box.

Thank Goodness For Tech

Can you imagine what this pandemic would be like if it happened at the turn of the century? Geez, just thinking about it gives me chills. Because of the today’s technology and the internet we’re able to communicate and survive. We can order groceries, stay in touch with family members, buy both essential and non-essential items. The Internet and technology, for the most part, is a Godsend.

Using Tech To Save Your Business

With all the technological advances, now is the time for businesses to turn to the online world to save themselves.

Brick-and-Mortar businesses need to get their stock online. They need to develop an online presence quickly and effectively.

Here are some ideas businesses can do to survive

  1. Get your online social media channels all aligned. Set up a content calendar and post regularly.
  2. Reach out to your customers and tell them your status. If you’re doing something to help them help you LET THEM KNOW.
  3. Reach out to your local Web designer, have them help you get your stock online. Customers want to support local businesses, but if you don’t make your merchandise available online your customers can’t help you by buying from you.
  4. Be REAL. Talk about what’s going on, how you are coping with the changes and how your supporters and patrons can help you.
  5. Join local business Facebook groups and contribute to the conversation. Don’t just be salesy, be helpful.
  6. Support other local businesses during this time.
  7. Think outside the box. This can be hard. But maybe there is a way you can keep your business solvent during this crazy time by thinking differently.
  8. Give back as much as possible. Your business might be suffering, but there are people who are sick and there are people who are risking everything to take care of them.

I hope some of these ideas help you think about how you can save your business and even help others during this time. Please feel free to reach out to me at anytime. We’re all in this together.

Stay Healthy… Stay Safe.

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

Categories
Top 10

Weekly Top Ten #12

Hey All,

Happy Friday! Here are our Top 10 finds for this past week. I hope everyone is staying safe and not going crazy at home.

This batch is a good one.

  1. Compromised Zoom Credentials Swapped in Underground Forums (Threatpost)
  2. Apple and Google are building coronavirus tracking tech into iOS and Android (cnet)
  3. Google starts highlighting virtual care options in Search and Maps (TechCrunch)
  4. 4 tips to quickly improve your website in the current situation (Yoast)
  5. Google Meet’s premium features are now free through Sept. 30th (Engadet)
  6. The SEO Elevator Pitch – Best of Whiteboard Friday (Moz)
  7. Five Personal Tips For Speakers Who Are Speaking At Virtual Conferences (MyCamp.rocks Newsletter)
  8. Google’s former CEO hopes the coronavirus makes people more “grateful” for Big Tech (Recode)
  9. When Your Employees Are Remote, You Have To Stop The Body-In-Seat Mentality (Forbes)
  10. YouTube launches Video Builder, a lightweight ad creation tool for businesses (Search Engine Land)
Categories
Top 10

Weekly Top Ten #11

Hey All,

Happy Friday! Here are our Top 10 finds for this past week. I hope everyone is staying safe and not going crazy at home.

This batch is a good one.

  1. NASA CIO Agencywide Memo: Alert: Cyber Threats Significantly Increasing During Coronavirus Pandemic (SpaceRef)
    Sad but true. Bad actors are going to capitalize on the pandemic to take advantage of people. Beware.
  2. Foursquare merges with Factual (TechCrunch)
    It will be interesting to see how Foursquare innovates.
  3. HubSpot unveils new content management system aimed at marketers (TechCrunch)
    Hubspot building out a CMS outside of its marketing suite is intriguing, but will it survive? WordPress, and yes I’m bias, already powers 35% + of the websites online.
  4. WhatsApp finally cracks down on message forwarding to stop misinformation (TechRadar)
    This is a step in the right direction for the messaging app with more than a billion users.
  5. GoDaddy Acquires Domain Registry of .US, .Biz, .In and .Co (Search Engine Journal)
    Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a big fan of GoDaddy. So this does have me worried, even with their assurances that they will be a fair and just owner.
  6. A Technical SEO Checklist for the Non-Technical Marketer (Search Engine Journal)
    This is an older article, but has tons of great information. During these strange times, I think it’s a good piece to read.
  7. Why the coronavirus lockdown is making the internet stronger than ever (MIT Technology Review)
    This is heartening how the internet is bringing us closer together in a way that we wouldn’t be able to 10 years ago.
  8. The changes covid-19 is forcing on to business (Economist)
    A lengthy piece but well worth the read.
  9. How To Support Loved Ones Facing Mental Illness (WPandUP)
    Great article explaining Mental Illness and how to support loved ones right now facing this onslaught. It’s a tough time and we have to be there for each other.
  10. Webcams have become impossible to find, and prices are skyrocketing (The Verge)
    With more people using online conferencing tools like Zoom. I’m not surprised there has been a run on webcams. Heck you can’t even get a laptop.
Categories
Technology

Zoom – From A Simple Business Communicator to a World Connector

Zoom wasn’t meant to become a consumer-grade product. It has been in the enterprise space since 2011 and until this pandemic most people have never heard of it. The monthly active users have gone from about 7 million to more than 200 million by some accounts. Because of this the company is under a microscope and it has a lot of fixing to do.

One of which is their messaging about how secure it is, as of right now. According to the website The Intercept zoom isn’t end-to-end encrypted.

The researchers [from the University of Toronto] … found that Zoom protects video and audio content using a home-grown encryption scheme, that there is a vulnerability in Zoom’s “waiting room” feature, and that Zoom appears to have at least 700 employees in China spread across three subsidiaries. They conclude, in a report for the university’s Citizen Lab — widely followed in information security circles — that Zoom’s service is “not suited for secrets” and that it may be legally obligated to disclose encryption keys to Chinese authorities and “responsive to pressure” from them.

The Intercept

The second part is even more concerning. The fact that there is a link back to the Chinese government means you should absolutely not talk about secrets of any type on Zoom.

Zoom has responded:

In our urgency to come to the aid of people around the world during this unprecedented pandemic, we added server capacity and deployed it quickly — starting in China, where the outbreak began. In that process, we failed to fully implement our usual geo-fencing best practices. As a result, it is possible certain meetings were allowed to connect to systems in China, where they should not have been able to connect. We have since corrected this, and would like to use this blog post to explain how our system typically works, where our misstep occurred, and how we will prevent these kinds of problems in the future. We have also been working on improving our encryption and will be working with experts to ensure we are following best practices.

We appreciate the questions we are getting, and continue to work actively to address issues as we identify them. As video communications become more mainstream, users deserve to better understand how all these services work, including how the industry — Zoom and its peers — manages operations and provides services in China and around the world.

Zoom Blog

Now, I’m not saying to stop using Zoom. What I am saying is be aware of its limitations.

Also lock it down.

Lately there has been a rash of Zoom Bombings, which is when bad actors invade public and private unprotected Zoom rooms and show/share/say nasty stuff. Zoom has released a blog post on what you need to do to protect your Zoom calls. Everyone should follow every point to the best of their ability.

At first the settings page for Zoom can be quite daunting, but if you take the time to secure your room right, you’ll have a much better experience.

In the end, is the Zoom platform perfect? No, not in the least. They are taking strides to make it more secure and robust for everyone to use. It’s on us, the public, to make sure we take our own security to heart and make it a top responsibility.

Categories
Top 10

Weekly Top Ten #10

Hey All,

Well we’ve done it! Number 10 of the Top 10. Woot! This is going to be a good one.

Regardless they are good articles. Here are our Top 10 finds for this past week.

This batch is a good one.

  1. Saudi spies tracked phones using flaws the FCC failed to fix for years (TechCrunch)
    This just shows how nefarious the Saudi Regime is.
  2. Coronavirus pushes traditional business into digital age (Axios Login)
    With more and more people working at home, traditional businesses and business models need to adjust or perish.
  3. What can local technology communities do to ease this global health crisis? (Technically)
    We’re in this together.
  4. YouTube ‘Stay Home #WithMe’ PSA Campaign Taps Emma Chamberlain, Dolan Twins, J Balvin, Venus Williams and More (Variety)
    I love seeing what people and companies are doing to promote staying home and safe.
  5. Amid Coronavirus Fears, Startups Rethink the Virtual Conference (Wired)
    This past weekend I attended a virtual WordCamp in San Antonio. It was great. This is the future.
  6. 1 big thing: Coronavirus stirs Silicon Valley’s inner problem-solver (Axios)
    The Valley likes a good problem to solve and Covid-19 is a good problem to solve.
  7. Desktop search is rising amid the work-from-home surge (Search Engine Land)}
    This makes logical sense, we’re all at home on our computers instead of commuting to work and looking at our phones.
  8. Zoom Lets Attackers Steal Windows Credentials, Run Programs via UNC Links (Bleeping Computer)
    Zoom has been under fire a bit lately. The moral of this story, don’t click on any links in Zoom chats you don’t know what they are.
  9. Apple Lets Some Video Apps Sell Shows Without Taking 30% Cut (Bloomberg)
    Change is in the air. This is a big change. Good for Apple.
  10. Here’s an explainer on how the CARES Act can benefit startups (Technically)
    Technically has been doing great coverage on the different efforts combatting Covid-19 and how the effect the local tech communities they cover.
Categories
A New World

The New Reality of Conferences — Virtual?

This weekend I witnessed history in the making when the San Antonio WordCamp (WordPress Conference) went totally virtual for it’s 2020 conference. It was the first ever that a WordCamp was held entirely online.

Because of this move, the conference saw a major boost in attendance from people who normally wouldn’t have made the physical trip to San Antonio.

To Cancel Or Go Digital

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 corona virus in 2019 in China and its subsequent spread across the globe in 2020, conferences from Mobile World Conference to Google IO have cancelled. Many WordCamps around the World chose to, or were forced to, cancel in the face of the pandemic. WordCamp Asia, which would have been the first Pan-Asian WordCamp was the first to cancel, then many other local and regional WordCamps cancelled. San Antonio’s organizers decided to do it virtually and in 16 days pulled it off. Impressive to say the least.

An Uncertain time.

Facing an uncertain time for gathering in real life, conference organizers need to figure out how to still deliver the quality and experience, albeit expectedly different, that attendees would get from an in person event.

WordCamp San Antonio used Crowdcast and Zoom to accomplish this historic feat. Crowdcast was used for the sessions and Zoom, was cleverly used for the famous WordCamp hallway chats and sponsor booths. Minus a few glitches and temporary lost connections, it went off close to flawlessly.

The Future of Conferences

So what does this mean for the further of conferences? Honestly, as with all things since Covid-19 struck, nothing is going to go back to the way it was, and if it does tha would be horrible.

I’ve had many chats fellow technologists and an overarching theme has emerged — virtual isn’t going away. Many of these conferences will continue to have virtual tickets, where in the past they wouldn’t have. This is going to be great for those people with special needs and special circumstances.

More Accessible

Many of these conferences are going to be much more inclusive than they once were and that’s great.

Coming up Adobe is not only having its summit online, but making it free. And that’s an even more shocking element. Many of these conferences that would normally have to charged for tickets, can lessen or eliminate the cost of a ticket as well. No physical location cost and no catering. Those two things alone drive the cost of any event up exponentially.

The Good In Humanity

Another thing we’re seeing is that many subject matter experts are donating their time and expertise to help others. They are volunteering to speak at conferences, holding free webinars, free coaching calls, and so much more.

As scary as this time is right now, the good in humanity is shinning brighter than ever before.

Have you been to any of these online conferences? What do you think about them going digital? Post your thoughts below.

Categories
Top 10

Weekly Top Ten #9

Hey All,

Wow, two weeks in a row since Covid-19 started happening in full force here in the states. Unfortunately, most of these articles involve Covid-19 in some way. It’s hard to escape the pandemic even in online journalism.

Regardless they are good articles. Here are our Top 10 finds for this past week.

This batch is a good one.

  1. Can Amazon handle the coronavirus pressure? (Protocol)
    Amazon sure is trying. The company in increasing its workforce and even limiting some of what it sells to just the essentials.
  2. Coming together to combat COVID-19 (Satya Nadella on LinkedIn)
    A great piece on LinkedIn from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella about how we can all come together to fight this pandemic.
  3. Amazon Prime delivery delays are now as long as a month (Recode)
    To be honest, it’s going to happen. There is more strain on the supply chain. Together we can get through this, even with the delays.
  4. Google’s Covid-19 Website
    Trump preemptively said such a site is being built by Google. It suprise Google, but they stepped up and here it is.
  5. Amazon, Apple and Microsoft CEOs detail their companies’ efforts to combat coronavirus pandemic (TechCrunch)
    Here’s to seeing the big guys team up.
  6. [Watch] Live With Search Engine Land: Top SEOs talk COVID-19 upheaval, traffic movements and more (Search Engine Land)
    This is a great livestream. It’s a bit inside baseball for those not in the SEO realm, But worth a watch.
  7. YouTube to Limit Video Quality Around the World for a Month (Bloomberg)
    This just shows how taxing our current internet infrastructure is and how we need to be mindful of that. Can you even imagine this pandemic without the internet?
  8. The Coronavirus Revives Facebook as a News Powerhouse (New York Times)
    I hate to admit it, but I’m using Facebook more.
  9. Facebook, Google Could Lose Over $44 Billion in Ad Revenue in 2020 Because of Coronavirus (Variety)
    We’re all losing money right now, but dang that’s quite a bit of coin.
  10. Facebook, Microsoft partner with WHO for coronavirus hackathon (CNBC)
    Hackathons are great, especially when they help fight something like Covid-19.

Categories
Security

Using Mobile Technology To Track Covid-19

The United States government as well as their counterparts in Israel are looking at way s to use cell phones to combat the spread of Covid-19.

The idea is to use location-based data from tech giants the likes of Facebook and Google, and others, to help with this effort, according to Elizabeth Montalbano writing on ThreatPost.com.

U.S. officials are in active discussions with technology giants like Facebook and Google as well as public health experts about how potentially to use location data collected from cell phones to track whether people are practicing social distancing or to track the movements of those infected with COVID-19, in order to stem the outbreak, according to a report in the Seattle Times.

The government is mulling this potential compiling of people’s personal and location-specific data with the purpose of mapping the spread of infection and using this knowledge to provide solutions to the problem, according to the report.

By analyzing the movement trends of smartphone owners, officials believe they can track the spread of COVID-19 and possibly limit the damage it has already caused, the report said. They also could use location-based information to see if people are indeed practicing recommended and, in some places, mandated social distancing, which requires people to ensure a certain amount of space between themselves and others when meeting people on the street or in a shop.

ThreatPost.com

Israel’s security service Shin Bet is using technology it has been using to track Palestinian militants to track Covid-19 cases.

Many privacy advocates are concerned that, though, these efforts are being done in the interest of public health, where and when does it stop? Will these new found surveillance powers be given up once Covid-19 is under control?

Sara Morrison in Recode writes:

Still, even the idea must seem unsettling to some. Many Americans lack trust in both the federal government and in how companies handle their personal data, so it’s understandable that even a hint of collaboration between the two would come under suspicion. We’ve also seen a litany of problematic privacy invasions from other countries’ governments, as they battle this virus.

Recode

Though this is a valid argument, in the U.S. at least there are safeguards in place to stop abuse of this data.

However, in this case, there are some limits to what the government can get from tech companies. America has rules when it comes to what it can force businesses and individuals to give up and how it can force them to do it. Cellphone location data is seen as particularly sensitive because of the immense amount of personal information that can be gleaned from it. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently moved to issue massive fines to cellular phone carriers that were accused of selling individual location data; in 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must obtain a search warrant to access an individual’s cellphone location data.

Recode

In my opinion, we should allow the government the authority to surveil, but limit it with legislation. We also need to make sure that once Covid-19 is under control and these powers aren’t needed anymore, they are relinquished.

It seems like even the Electronic Frontier Foundation is willing to allow the government some leeway.

Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, similarly says that current circumstances give the government a little more leeway here — but just a little — to strike the balance between gathering information for the public good and protecting individuals’ privacy.

“We are in the middle of a public health crisis,” Schwartz told Recode. “And some rebalancing of collective and individual interests may be appropriate. But those adjustments need to be temporary and science-driven and not discriminate.

“Any time you’ve got location data in the mix, that’s a concern,” he added.

The government must be as restrictive as possible with the data it uses, how it uses it, and for how long, Schwartz said.

Recode

What do you think? Should we, the public, be okay with more surveillance to help combat Covid-19? Or is this just to creepy and over reaching.

Image by Silviu Costin Iancu from Pixabay

Categories
Guest Post

Thinking About Selling Gift Cards To Get Through The Crisis? Be Careful!

Thinking about selling gift cards to get through the crisis? Be careful! Selling a gift card to fund current operations can be a huge mistake. First, you must account for a gift card as a liability on your books (like a loan). So if you’re looking for a loan, having outstanding liabilities reduces the amount you can get and increases the cost of money.

Second, if you use the cash from gift cars to fund current operations, when you re-open in some form of normalcy, you will need to have the funds to re-start your business (this is especially true for food service businesses!).

So, a pizza shop that sells $5,000 worth of gift cards and spends that $5,000 before re-opening is now faced with the daunting prospect of having no cash, owing $5,000 and needing $5,000 worth of materials to start up. Bad news.

Worse news – you manage to find the $5,000 to get the shop re-opened and everyone shows up with their gift cards and buys $5,000 worth of food – but this leaves no cash in the register.

A better model for a food service shop might be to sell “memberships” to your business – a Pizza Shop membership entitles you to 2 free slices and a drink, once a week, for a year. It’s sold as an annual membership and it costs – amazingly – the same as a $50 gift card!

READ MORE ABOUT GIFT CARD ACCOUNTING HERE: https://www.accountingtools.com/articles/2017/5/17/accounting-for-gift-cards-gift-certificates