Shopping Online, Safety Tips to Make Sure You’re Getting What You Paid For

With the huge popularity of online shopping sites on the internet, making sure that you’re getting what you paid for, and not exposing yourself (and your credit card) to potentially dangerous scams is of paramount importance. Online shopping is convenient, and can be the source of great deals sometimes, but for a safe online shopping experience arming yourself with the proper information before making that first online purchase is extremely essential. Below are a few tips that you should keep in mind to ensure safe online shopping.

1. Make sure you know who you’re buying from

It is always a good idea to know the merchant that you’re dealing with, especially with online shopping where there is no actual contact between buyer and seller other than through online transactions. It’s fairly easy to find and browse around online forums that discuss scammers and phishing sites that attempt to steal private information. Legitimate online shopping companies will never hesitate to provide multiple contact information in order to ask about or verify any online purchases, and most online shopping sites allow past buyers to provide feedback to seller’s profiles after each purchase.

2. Know if your personal information is secure

Checking an online merchant’s privacy policy is one of the first ways to ensure that any data you provide will not be used without your knowledge. Third party security organizations like TRUSTe and BBBOnline provide certificates for sites that ensure that their buyers are secure. Before you enter your data to any online form make sure that the data is encrypted. The web address (URL) should start with https:// rather than the normal http:// of unsecure sites. You should also be careful not to provide information that has nothing to do with a purchase like personal bank information or social security numbers. An ounce of prevention being better than a pound of cure applies to safe online shopping as well.

3. Make sure that you have proper anti-virus software

Most anti-virus software provide tools to ensure safe online shopping, warning you of potential hidden malicious programs and pop ups that might allow others to view personal information without your knowledge. If you do, or are planning to do a lot of online transactions, investing on a good anti-virus software with online shopping safety tools is a good idea to keep in mind.

4. Maintain Transaction Records

A good safe online shopping practice is to regularly keep records of your online transactions. Printing out or electronically archiving receipts and shipping details helps you keep track of dates, fees and other information that would help you follow-up on and track your online purchases.

Your safe online shopping experience is usually proportional to the amount of care you take in choosing who you deal with online. The internet allows us to do many of our daily activities simply and conveniently, but it is never without its dangers. Online shopping may be convenient, but if you aren’t careful, it may cost you more than you would be willing to pay for. Keep yourself informed, and it will go a long way to keep online shopping an enjoyable experience.

Posted in Want to know? Just ask! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Social Media is Changing the World

The ease of availability of social media in our everyday lives is something that many people often take for granted. For a lot of users of sites like Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, Twitter, and Digg, not to mention the myriad of online chatrooms, MMORPG’s, blogs and message boards, these social media sites have become so ingrained to their daily routines that it is easy to forget that it was only a decade ago that Friendster came into the scene and changed the way that we “connect” with our friends, or that the internet as we know it now didn’t even exist before it began to be commercialized in the mid 1990’s.

Truly, social media has come a long way since its early days, and the effects of social media with regard to the ways in which we communicate has been nothing if not astonishing. News from half a world away can be accessed with a few mouse clicks, updating your friends on your latest thoughts can be done practically anywhere through mobile phones, even shopping can be done without leaving your home. It is hard to find anyone nowadays without access to any form of social media, and because this powerful form of communication now exists, the effects of social media, and how it has recently helped shape how many historical events turned out cannot be ignored.

As an example, one of the major events in which social media has played a large part in, is what is now known as the Arab Spring. On December 18, 2010, a wave of protests in Tunisia sparked by the self-immolation of a local street vendor, the day before to protest his harassment by a municipal official and the confiscation of his merchandise, took on a life of its own. Spreading to several other countries in the Arab world, fueled by anger and organized through social media sites like Facebook, the uprisings led to the ouster of three long entrenched regimes and even the death of a dictator. Such are the effects of social media that even with the repeated attempts to quell the protests and restrict information, people still knew what was happening and were able to react accordingly.

These types of events where social media has become one of the rallying points to organize demonstrations aren’t limited to the middle east alone, in the US, the Occupy Wall Street Movement relied on various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs to inform people of events as they unfolded. A more recent example to how the effects of social media has changed the political playing field, being the protests of various websites such as Google, Reddit and Wikipedia, among thousands of others against the passing of two controversial internet regulatory bills (namely the Stop Online Piracy Act, and the Protect IP Act).

The power of this new medium of communication and the effects of social media in our everyday lives may be easily taken for granted, but that does not mean that it hasn’t changed our world. The fact that it can be so easily disregarded is already a testament on how much it has become a part of how we live. People usually don’t think about it, and even if you did, you would have probably posted or read about it online before you even realized that what you were doing was exactly the point.

Posted in Want to know? Just ask! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Buy a Laptop Computer

In this age of mobile computing and wireless networks, getting a laptop computer in order to take advantage of the convenience that having such a powerful tool gives you. Of course, deciding to buy a laptop is one thing, but knowing how to buy a laptop computer is another matter entirely. Many laptop sales persons may barrage you with information that, unless you keep up to date on tech news, you will probably not make heads or tails of. Whenever you make a big purchase, getting enough information on what we buy is usually a good idea, and the same idea goes on how to buy a laptop computer.

One of the first questions that you ask yourself even before you decide to buy a laptop is on what you’re going to use it for. Are you a student? A businessman? A graphic artist? Are you going to be using it for gaming or for homework and web browsing? The way that you plan to use it would be the guide to determine the specs that you would follow on how to buy a laptop computer of your own.

There are different guides on what to follow on how to buy a laptop computer depending on how you plan to use it. For students, the key considerations that they take to account is cost and portability while businessmen are more concerned on making sure that their data is safe. Home users usually would settle for the traditional models that many laptop makers offer, gamers and graphic designers on the other hand demand a lot more power on their machines and the rules on how to buy a laptop computer for these high-end users are drastically different.

Once you know the requirements that you need, then comes knowing the components that makes your laptop run. Like all machines, the utility of laptops depend on the sum of its parts, and a laptop is only as good as its weakest component. If you want to know how to buy a laptop computer that will meet your needs, knowing the right components that make your ideal setup is essential.

Processors are the brain of your laptop computer, the more powerful your processor is, the better it can handle multitasking. For users that do not require much computing power, single processor laptops may be adequate for their needs, on the other end of the spectrum are the Intel and AMD multiprocessor laptops (like the Core i series and the AMD Phenom series) that are, at least for now, the top of their class.

Deciding how much RAM your laptop has is another important consideration on how to buy a laptop computer. The more RAM you have, the faster your computer will run programs and increase in performance is quite significant. Battery life is another factor when deciding on how to buy a laptop computer. The point of getting a laptop after all is mobility, and the longer your battery power lasts per charge, the longer you take advantage of that mobility.

Things like graphics cards, screen size, hard drives and optical drives, though still important considerations when deciding on how to buy a laptop computer, are usually left to the specific demands that a user wants out of his machine. The high-end components usually perform better or faster, but will of course tend to be more expensive.

There is a lot of information about different brands and models of laptops that you can find by simply searching through the web. Arming yourself with that information is, and always will be the best way to know how to buy a laptop computer.

Posted in Want to know? Just ask! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cloud Computing: Changing the Way Modern Business Works

As companies try to shrug off the effects of a slow economy, the importance of streamlining business processes and cutting down on various operational and capital costs has become more apparent in order for them to survive. Taking such steps, of course, should not be made without proper planning, as streamlining shouldn’t disrupt your company’s work flow, and cost cutting should never come at the price of productivity.

Cloud computing is a buzzword that has been passed around in various business circles for quite a few years now. Promising a more efficient and less expensive way of handling various commercial activities mainly, but not limited to, IT services, cloud computing offers companies either Infrastructure, Platform or Software services (or combinations thereof) that allows these businesses an alternative in developing their different departments without having to invest heavily for constant changes in the needs of their employees.

By providing individual users access to either software or hardware (or both) to fit their requirements, and to be able to change those levels of access without having to purchase additional software licenses or hardware, cloud computing gives managers the ability to easily adjust and adapt their departments in relation to business demands, an advantage that can mean the difference between profit and loss, and a huge reason why cloud computing is drawing so much attention.

So how does cloud computing work anyway? What are the ways that enables cloud computing to cut costs, and yet still provide an efficient IT infrastructure? Cloud computing accomplishes this by shifting the majority of the work that is usually done by local IT departments, that is, maintenance of databases, controlling access to applications, and services related to these databases and applications to a separate network of computers (referred as the cloud, thus the name) that is operated by a cloud computing provider. With this setup, local computers need only run the provider’s interface software, which can be as simple as accessing the internet through a web browser. This centralized control of information and access to that information that is given by a cloud computing provider eliminates the need to purchase additional units and applications as new employees are hired, or conversely, eliminates rendering applications and units, that would have been bought otherwise, not being utilized when employees leave. Because the hardware involved in a cloud computing system exists at the provider’s end, modifying access to applications locally involves only minor entries, speeding up any changes in relation to business requirements without affecting work flow.

The advantages that cloud computing offers has undoubtedly changed the way in which modern business works, providing an alternative way to build an IT infrastructure that turns what would have been an expensive capital investment into a more manageable operational expense. With many companies looking for ways to cut costs without affecting quality, and efficiency of operations, it is not surprising that cloud computing remains one, if not the top choice for managing IT related functions, and will probably stay that way for a long time to come.

Posted in Want to know? Just ask! | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment