Will Google Revolutionize Online Privacy?

A woman's hand is touching screen on tablet computer iPad pro at night for searching on Google search engine. Google is popular Internet search engine

Your online privacy matters, even if you don’t think you have anything to hide. Over the last few years, this has become more and more evident as we watch tech giants profit off of understanding the people who use their services. Facebook, Amazon, and Google are among them. Google in particular has made some recent policy changes that are worth understanding.

Google isn’t a Search Engine, They are an Ad Platform

We all know and use Google as a search engine every single day. A majority of us use their Android smartphones, surf the web with the Chrome browser, use their Gmail email service, watch television through a Google Chromecast, and a whole lot more. Fundamentally, however, Google makes their money by serving relevant ads to people who do Google searches.

Whenever you are on the Internet, you are being watched. Not by human beings necessarily, but by the constantly learning and changing algorithms that power Google and many other similar entities.

It’s how services like Google can get so good at giving you the answers you are looking for. For example, if you search for “chinese takeout near me” Google will give you results based on your location. It collates those results based on reviews and tons of other metrics to try to give you the best possible experience.

Google custom tailors all of its search results for you like that. Gather a few of your colleagues and have them search for hot-button issues and compare results. Google is more likely to deliver content that it thinks is relevant to you and your search behavior. Some of that content might be ads that individuals and companies purchase and pay money for, hence how Google has become such an affluent global enterprise.

What’s New for Google Involving Your Online Privacy

Google plans on dropping some of the methods it uses to track an individual’s online behavior across the web. This is actually pretty surprising, considering that they built their entire business around that sort of thing. For the record, Google has been, for the most part, pretty trustworthy about how they use this type of data, especially compared with how some other entities (we’re looking at you, Facebook) have done some pretty shady stuff with this wealth of information.

Google isn’t eliminating their data-gathering altogether, but they are shifting away from using cookies. Cookies are tiny files that your web browser stores that track your online activity. They are meant to be helpful, mostly. They make it so your browser can remember where you are logged in, they help your website track the number of hits it receives, and a lot more. Most cookies are pretty benign, and often they make your online experience better.

Instead of using cookies, Google is going to start watching trends amongst groups of similar users, as opposed to building individual profiles of each individual user. This builds a sort of “privacy sandbox” that lets a user be a little more anonymous, but should still deliver a good experience overall online. It sounds good on paper, but there has been some scrutiny.

For instance, if a user signs into a website with their Google account, that information is still passed over, and the entity that controls the website (or their partners) can glean any information about your time on that site. The UK, which is often first in line to question privacy issues online, are currently investigating these new tools to find any anticompetitive features.

It’s probably a good step in the right direction for Google, as the world becomes increasingly conscious about how an individual’s data is used, and how other entities can use this information for their advantage.

In general, we have faith that Google has the best intentions, but it’s still up to each of us as people to be careful about what we do and post online. It’s important to stay safe and vigilant, and to take the time to understand what online entities can learn about you.

What are your thoughts? Do you like how convenient websites and search engines can be when they know who you are, or would you rather give up that convenience for more online privacy? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to contact us if you have any questions!

FCC Speed Test App to Help Fix Internet Inequality

Communication technology for internet business. Global world network and telecommunication on earth cryptocurrency and blockchain and IoT. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

With the transition of broadband Internet from a helpful convenience to a prescient need for modern life and business, it is staggering to consider that access to this resource is not equally distributed. While the U.S. Federal Communications Commission intends to change this, they need data to help them gauge the true scope of the problem. To do so, the FCC is pulling out an application that they first released years ago: FCC Speed Test.

How Important is Broadband Accessibility?

To answer this question, all that is needed is a little reflection. Take a few moments to look at your own online activities—how much of your life is now primarily handled online, through the Internet? Shopping online, keeping in touch with friends and relatives, or (most pertinently to our considerations) working remotely?

The lack of consistent broadband access makes these activities considerably more difficult for many people and businesses, if not eliminating them as options altogether. Therefore, the FCC is rallying behind the FCC Speed Test app they launched in 2013 and pushing for people to install it on their mobile devices.

FCC Speed Test

With enough people downloading and enabling the application, the FCC will be able to better keep track of the areas where Internet service quality is lacking. This will in turn enable funds to be most effectively allocated to where they are most needed.

FCC Speed Test evaluates the upload and download speeds, along with the latency, of your mobile device via a Wi-Fi network or cellular connection. Kicking in once every 24 hours, these tests can be scheduled to meet your itinerary and how much data these evaluations will use.

In addition, the app helps to test connectivity speeds, plotting them out by time and geographic location. In exchange, the app collects some data (like location, IP address, device type, operating system, and ISP) but refrains from collecting any personally identifiable data.

You can also report any lacking speeds to the FCC through the app, adding to the data they collect.

Available for either iOS or Android, this application can be downloaded now. Check out the FCC’s official FAQ page to find out more about it.

With any luck, these kinds of actions will help bring more equitable Internet access to more people, businesses, and organizations. While we wait, we will continue to deliver whatever IT services we can to companies. Give us a call at (516) 536-5006 to find out what we could do for you.

Cool Technology Gifts for Employees for the Holidays

cool technology gifts for employees

Most people like new technology, whether it is a lamp shaped like the moon, a new video game console, or just a gadget that may improve their life a little bit. We looked around to try and find some business-esque technology the professional would be able to use in their office (or home office). Let’s take a look at them now:

Power

Every technology user runs out of power at some time or another. Typically, the home office is built inside the home, so finding enough outlets can be problematic. Surge protectors can provide these outlets, but can often burn out quickly or be a fire hazard. Today, there are surge protectors that not only provide an increase of outlets, they can also work to protect your most important technology: your computers, modem, router, etc. from fluctuations in electric current.

Besides this there are other power-related options such as power banks and wireless chargers that will keep people connected while they are out on the go. When buying power-related gifts, make sure that the recipient has hardware that is compatible with the option you select, to avoid embarrassment.

Comfort

For the person that prioritizes comfort, you might want to find something that will keep them cushy. These gifts can range in price from a dollar to thousands of dollars, but regardless of what your budget is, you should be able to find something adequate for the people you love.

Options such as a new desk chair can completely change someone’s outlook and ability to sit comfortably through the day if they work at an office/home office. Other options like blue-light filtering glasses that are a good option to help avoid eye strain or a smart mug that keeps their beverage warm longer are perfect. Since everyone appreciates gifts that make the daily grind easier or more enjoyable, this is a great way to go for the professional in your life.

Personality

This year has been rough as most desk workers have been working from home, and many have had to figure out how to work out a home/life balance when everything they do is ostensibly from home. There are some gag gifts and even services that you can give that could be great at getting people more relaxed as they work from home.

Gifts as simple as a Newton’s cradle, fidget spinner, or Rubik’s cube can help people relieve stress. Other options include a miniature punching bag for the high strung, to a desktop putting green for the golf aficionado that everyone knows.

What technology will you be giving (and receiving) this holiday season? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below and stop back here for more technology-based reading soon.

The Modern Workplace and How Technology Has Affected It

how technology has affected the modern workplace

Throughout history, technology has continuously modified the way employees across every industry do their work. Not long ago, companies were in the mess of numerous paperwork. Heavy expenses were incurred so as to reach customers, memos had to be released and posted on notice boards, as well as numerous meetings in rooms. Nevertheless, technology has changed all of this and made work more comfortable. You now stand a chance to work in the comfort of your home effectively. Here are some of the ways in which technology has reshaped the modern workplace

Speed and Efficiency

Technology has made it possible for you to work faster and become more fruitful when working from home. Using modern software systems not only motivates you to do more work but also do a clean job. Unlike in the past, when you had to do a lot of paperwork, completing a task is now just a click away. 

Technology has streamlined how fast a certain task will be completed. It has become easy to track down how your colleagues are working and bring out better results together. Therefore, the ability to bring out fast and efficient results lies on the screen in front of you. 

Better Team Collaboration

Technology has dramatically changed the way people used to communicate. Smartphones, chat apps, and social networking sites have taken communication to another level. This makes it easy to get in touch with your colleagues and deliberate on how you can continue being more productive. 

Technology has also made it easier for managers to track the progress of every employee. This keeps every worker on their toes and ensures that all work is efficiently done and thus more output. Holding meetings has also become easy due to teleconferencing. This saves you not only time but also the extra expenses that would have been used to commute to the office.

Reduced Risk of Security Breaches

Initially stealing essential and sensitive information from a company was easy, but now with technology, it has almost become impossible to get such information. This is because proper security measures brought about by technology have been put in place.  

Technology has also made it possible for every employees’ conversations to be tracked. This ensures that no security breach is caused by any of your colleagues. When your company is secure, you also become secure in terms of your job. 

Effective Cost Management

Every company’s goal is to increase profitability as well as the quality of services offered. Now that technology has made working from home easy and effective, the overall expenses of the company have reduced. Manual handling of tasks has been eliminated and more efficient ways have been put in place

The use of computers while working from home helps you to get more accurate results, unlike when you had to do a lot of paperwork. Once accuracy has been achieved, there is an easy retrieval of information anytime it is needed. Besides, the work that could have been done by several people is easily done by one person in the comfort of their home. This helps to reduce many expenses in your company while achieving more profits. 

Keeps The Business Fully Organized

Technology makes it possible for the business to be well organized. When working from home, updating your progress and achievements on your company’s online data records brings out clear and clean work, unlike when using paperwork. This makes it possible to easily trace and know how well you are faring in line with the requirements of the company. 

Not only are you able to keep track of what you are doing, but also track how your collaborative workmates are doing too. This helps you to make comparisons and improve where necessary, thus increasing your productivity. 

Difficulty Detaching from Work

Working from home can be very enjoyable, especially now that we are living in a modern world. If not well planned, you may meet yourself working overtime and making it hard to break off from work. This becomes possible due to the beauty of working with modern tools, but it can bring about negative results when not carefully observed. 

In as much as you can do a lot of work when working from home, setting working hours and keenly following them is very crucial. This is because overworking leads to burnout and then, in turn, low productivity. Making sure that you take breaks from work is very vital and ends up increasing your productivity.

Technology has, therefore, made working from home not only possible but also effective and very fruitful.

To learn more about this, feel free to contact us today.

5 IT Myths Heard All Too Often Your Business Should Know

5 it myths heard all too often your business should know
Your Business Should Know

Working in IT can leave the door open for a lot of technology myths, conspiracies, and even rumors that will often times circulate around the water cooler. Some of them are downright funny and give your IT team a laugh. We’ve heard them all, and wanted to share them with you so you don’t get tripped up by these IT urban legends. 

Overnight Charging 

While a smartphone’s battery was once subject to overheating if it’s charged for too long, improvements to the battery have added a “trickle effect” that merely adds stress to the phone. Fortunately, you’ll do very little damage to your phone if it’s left charging overnight. However, the trickle effect can cause your phone to overheat which means you’re not completely out of the woods. If you have any reserve about charging your phone overnight, it should be about overheating and not overcharging. In fact, the experts suggest: removing your case to avoid making the problem worse. 

A Mac Is Immune To Viruses 

This is close to being true, but not quite. Your MacOS is still subjected to other internal infections that includes various malware, phishing attacks, and ransomware. The reason threats are so rare against Macs is a simple cost/benefit factor. Windows PCs have a higher market share that hackers are aware of leaving a small sliver for Macs. 

Cartridge Not Working? Blow On It

The massive 5 inch cartridges that offered us entertainment on our video games in the 80’s wouldn’t always boot on the first try. Children and teenagers would remove the cartridge and blow in it and then reinsert it into the game console. However, the actual problem with the connectors not being aligned. To fix it, one only had to simply reinsert it. The vapor from human breath probably did more harm than good over time. 

I Don’t Need Security. I Don’t Have Anything Important Stored On My PC

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. If you check your emails or have social media accounts on your PC or other devices, a hacker will still pillage your information. If you have accessed a storage file, you have opened yourself up to a ton of risks. A hacker can have access to every account you’ve opened simply by hacking your email. Long story short… secure your computer. 

Google Pays For Preferential Treatment

When you do web searches and see that little ad, this means a business (or website) has set up a budget with Google in an attempt to attract more web traffic. It’s proven to be worthwhile for businesses, but we have become “adver-content” and only 20 percent of web traffic will actually click through these ads. This means the ads are profitable to the website they belong to and Google, but certainly not us-unless we’re interested in their business niche. 

Learn about other IT Myths, contact us at AE Technology today!