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Gateway Computers

Last weekend, my computer caught a virus. Thanks to some Gateway computer features and the Cloud, it survived quite handily, back up and running with just about everything in place in less than 24 hours. This is how it all went down so you can learn from my experiences and perhaps protect your computer and avoid a disaster. Let’s start at the beginning…

My computer caught a virus

My sick computer

The computer that got ill, poor baby.

It was a mean one. It pretended to be a Windows anti-virus that dubbed all programs on my computer as “infected” and “unsafe,” preventing me from running any of them. This includes Firefox and my own anti-virus. Once my computer was held hostage, it asked me to scan my computer using this program, whereby from past experience I knew it would say that my computer was hideously compromised and the only way to fix it would be to hand over my credit card information to this fake Windows anti-virus.

I had encountered this virus before, or at least ones like it. Once on a friends computer and a second time on another computer of mine (used only for video watching). In both cases the OS had to be wiped. Unfortunately, this time, the computer was my work computer and main personal computer.

Knowing what I was up against, I immediately transferred my files over to my little netbook. Luckily I don’t have much saved on my computer. Just work documents. No photos, no videos, no music.

If I don’t save my photos, videos, and music on my computer, how do I survive? Obviously I have tons of photos – I am on Facebook. I listen to music – I am a young adult and I do fit some stereotypes. I love watching videos – again, I’m a young adult.

So why aren’t they on my computer?

Look to the clouds.

I host my photos on Facebook. It is the largest photo-sharing website, after all. Actually, most of my photos are shared in my Friends’ profiles. I don’t take many myself.

My music? Saved on Spotify. I love Spotify. I am not a paying member, mostly because I haven’t gotten around to it. But I will. Just wait.

Videos? Do I own DVDs? Not really. I watch movies and TV series on Netflix and Hulu. What DVDs I own are a historic artifact from when you couldn’t get anime without ordering online. Now I just go to Netflix and their ample Japanese animation library.

So when my computer got ill, I at least wasn’t loosing anything. It took me about an hour to transfer all files I couldn’t afford to lose to my netbook using a simple 250MB thumb drive that my father got for free years ago at a conference.

The USB stick. I couldn't have done this without it!

Okay, Gateway gets some credit

And the little netbook that make it possible.

And the little netbook that make it possible.

I don’t have a Windows 7 OS CD. Luckily, however, Gateway has a simple Factory Defaults setting that resets the entire computer to out-of-the-box newness. I just needed to start that and bam! I had a brand new old computer. It’s only a year old, but I didn’t want to buy a new one yet. This was perfect, and, really, it’s what saved my computer.

Once the computer had its amnesia, it forgot all about that virus. No more virus, no more danger. Unfortunately, it also forgot all the programs I had loaded on it over time. But no worries. I hadn’t paid for any of them.

I use Tweetdeck for Twitter, and that’s free. Skype for phone calls with family, and that’s free. I’ve already mentioned Spotify for music, and yes, that’s free, too. I use Chrome and Firefox to surf the net, free and free. I just spent a morning working off my netbook while I downloaded my main computer redownloaded all my favorite programs. Rather simple, actually.

But I don’t ever want this to happen again, to you either

In all, I discovered that my computer had a virus at about 10:30 pm last Sunday and had my computer back up and running with all integral programs by 11:am the next day. I haven’t moved all my files back, but that’s just me being lazy. I have rediscovered my netbook and just like using it more so the urgency to move the files has worn off.

That said, I don’t want this to happen again, so I’m going to do as my father has suggested: start using Virtual Box to surf the net. It’s from Oracle and it is free (like everything else I use, apparently). Basically, it runs a partitioned second OS on your computer that you can use to surf the net. If you download cookies and viruses during your surfing, you can just delete that partition without affecting the rest of your machine. It’s like having a disposable computer within your computer. Neat, huh?


Facebook Like Button

by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

Privacy is a big concern, particularly on Facebook. And for absolutely good reason, too. After all, I’m sure we all have those ex-friends we not only never want to see again, but would like to never see us again, too. Keeping who you want close, close and who you want far away as far away as possible is only natural.

That includes companies. These days there is a barter system going on with our private information. We like a brand’s page and allow them to see our demographics in exchange for potentially fun posts and, even better, free stuff. Sounds like a deal, as long as I’m the one who gets to okay it. This same barter is seen on Amazon, where the site learns what you like and makes, sometimes very astute, recommendations. But only when you’re signed in.

But, what about those cases when you’re not signed in. When you didn’t sign up for something and they’ve scraped your data from your Facebook profile? You didn’t sign up for it. I didn’t sign up for it. How can we avoid this danger?

But, is there really a privacy threat?

I mean, no doubt Facebook has privacy issues. Otherwise people wouldn’t be complaining left and right. I do not doubt this, and will not argue against it.

But I will point out that it’s incredibly difficult to get at your public data on Facebook by using the legal Open Graph API. I know because I tried to access my own public data  and that of my friends through that API while not signed in. Here’s what I found:

my open graph informationGo ahead and try it on your own account. All you need is your account ID number, which you can find here:

screen capture of my Facebook ID number in my profile's URLThen just type in https://graph.facebook.com/ followed by that number into your browsers URL bar and – tadaa! You can see what is available publicly about you.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care if people know I’m female, speak American English, and thus assume I’m an American female. As far as my name goes, I use a pseudonym online, so have fun!

Notice that even if my privacy settings were to make everything public, they still wouldn’t show up with this public Open Graph API search. That’s because Facebook doesn’t use the word public here the same way that we do. The information displayed above is “public information.” But in order to get at the information I’ve shared with the world on my Facebook Profile, any application developer needs an “access token.”

To get an access token, Facebook’s developer website explains that an app must go through three stages: user authentication, app authorization, app authentication. User authentication is just verifying that the user is who he says he is, same for app authentication. App authorization, however, is that bit where we’re asked to allow the app access to various bits of our data.

Farmville asking for my personal dataSee that bit up at the top, by my profile pic? “Access my basic information” really means “access all the public stuff I’m too silly enough not to set as private on my profile security settings.”

“Public” does not mean “public”

Let’s back up a second. “Public” in the eyes of Facebook app developers is basic demographic information. “Public” in the eyes of you, me, and most consumers is the stuff we set as available for strangers to see on our profiles. Companies and other systematic organizations cannot even see what we allow complete and total strangers to see. At least through this API.

I’m actually a bit reassured by that.

Of course, I’m sure there are work-arounds, particularly for the less than legal. However, at least when it comes to companies trying to spy into my life using the Open Graph API, I can rest assured that it’s a bit more complicated than just searching my name with this tool and that if they want to legally pry into my life, I have to give them permission.

*Note: I am not a Privacy Expert. I just tweedled around with the Open Graph API and this is what I found. As I said, I’m sure that there are other ways to spy on us. I just don’t think this is one of them. So you should always set your privacy settings as high as possible!


The First Strike Went to Social Media

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

A little over two months ago I faced a time management challenged: How to stay involved in all the social networks I enjoy and still (OMG!) have a life. It seemed impossible at the time. Every morning, I would get up and look at my social networks, which I would check each day. That meant a good hour and a half or more of social media, engaging on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Brazen Careerist, and, of course, this blog. It was the perfect definition of “Time Suck.”

My Counterstrike

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

So I started my social media counter strike. I decided to touch each social media outlet in a daily rotation. One day LinkedIn, the next Twitter, then the blog, and so forth. It’s worked, to a degree. Because I’m only worrying about one social media outlet a day I am able to dig in and get some real value of out it, like learning from experts on LinkedIn or actually publishing a blog post on a regular basis.

But it hasn’t worked for Twitter. You cannot get any benefit from Twitter through a condensed engagement once a week. It’s just too hard to carry on a conversation. Sure, once a week I can go through my lists and unfollow people I forgot I was following in the first place, but I still was not getting any value out of it.

Phase Two of the Battle – Two Fronts

Two Lines of Tanks

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

Okay, so social media is still kicking my butt in some ways. Twitter remains a problem: how to engage enough without spending my life on it? I know that this is an issue many people have. So I’m experimenting with lists and my News Feed. I’ve already got the lists going, so now I just have to see how to use them appropriately. Maybe it’s just to dip my head in on the conversation occasionally, or maybe it will make in-depth conversations easier. Dunno. We’ll see.

The next thing that’s whooping my rear end is RSS Feeds. If you do not have an RSS Feed Reader, get one. They are gorgeous and enable you to keep up on all the blogs you like without visiting all the websites. But, if you are following a ton of feeds, like I am (58 total right now), it can be hard to keep up. I’m attempting to sort my RSS Feeds into folders and try to attack them piecemeal, but we’ll see how that works. Maybe if I don’t try to read everything each day I’ll be able to keep up. Or maybe if I do that, I’ll fall behind on my news. Again, we’ll see.

The War Continues

Tank pointing at the camera

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

This is not a battle I will easily win. As I master one time management system, some new social media tool or network will come out to entirely mess it up. That’s the way wars go. Besides, you know what happens to the best laid plans once you hit the battlefield.


Hi all,

Just a note that I will be out of the blogosphere for the next few days. If you nip over to my resume, you’ll see that I’m the current PR Manager for the Phoenix Comicon. Well, the convention is this weekend!

I’ll be back after the convention with a sum-up blog post. Look forward to it!

Kate


This week I have a list of How To’s for you. As always these are some of the articles I’ve enjoyed over the past week or so. I didn’t see anything that made me laugh out load this week, so I’m going back in time to a panel of a web comic I enjoy. You don’t need to know what was going on in the story to enjoy the joke.

How to Send a Thank You Note – Exactly what it sounds like. A few tips on when and how to tell someone thank you with a personalized note.

How to Become a Social Media Expert – The step-by-step of what you need to do to work in social media. While I’m not fond of the term “expert” since it implies that you know everything… labels aside, it’s a good list.

How to Work with Recruiters – A little video from an executive recruitement agency about, well, working with recruiters. I know an executive recruiter, so this piqued my fancy. It’s nice to know about this industry, even if you’re entry-level.

He’s Not Reacting Well – “I can has wands!”


I finally managed to finish another book: Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research. For they who are considering this book, here’s the quick review: Wonderful. Buy Now.

Though I can’t imagine there are very many who are just considering buying this book at this point in time. I’m a little late on the pick up, here. This book has been critically acclaimed by august personages of the business world. It won the Berry-AMA Book Prize for the best book in marketing in 2009. It was published in 2008. It is currently 2010. I would have read it earlier but I’d been trying to knock out these other book reviews. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t waited.

This book is truly phenomenal. It combines well-developped research and case studies with an engaging writing style. It helped me wipe the sleepies out of my eyes when I was trying to wake up even earlier than usual (While reading this book I switched from waking up at 6 am to 5 am in order to work-out in the mornings).

Unfortunately, because it is currently 2010 and the book was published in 2008, some of the information is a bit behind the times. Not that it is useless, but more like when Levi’s is posting the Facebook “Like” button in its online store, perhaps the idea of ratings and reviews on a website isn’t quite so novel anymore. Still, it is inspirational to read the stories of how companies just got into this world of the groundswell. Though the great giants of business, like Levi’s, are playing ball with a gusto, smaller and medium size companies, like the one I currently work for, are still trying to figure out the rules. They don’t have enough time to develop a full team to figure out how to win at this game while managing inventory.

This book is still awesome and wonderful, even if I’m a bit late reading it. Through my search of previous reviews, I know this book has been used in many a classroom. Since I’m pretty fresh out of the college myself, I distinctly remember the hefty tomes I was forced to carry. I wish that my professors had made this one of their integral texts, instead. This book’s size, weight, and cost alone make it superior. I got a hardback, like most students would have had to. It cost me $30. I wish my other textbooks were that cheap! And it is roughly half the size of my other texts, perhaps a quarter. I would, however, go so far to say that it is full of 4 times the useful information. Useful defined here as present and accessible, because no matter how much info is in those gigantic bricks, if a student uses it more like a pillow than a book, it’s not useful.

What makes it such a good read is all the good data and examples. The book tells the story of how Dell went from “Dell Hell” to the happy blogging state it’s in now. Every chance Li and Bernoff got, they personified the struggle to make a company active in the groundswell by dropping it down from impersonal company to very personal person. They name the people who came up with the ideas and implement them. For instance, they describe Tormod Askildsen, the LEGO Group’s senior director of business development, and his plan for energizing the adult Lego enthusiasts who account for a large percentage of Lego’s business. They even discuss what happens to a business once it accepts the groundswell and how the role the reader might play in that change.

But it isn’t all anecdotal. Forrester Research is a research firm, after all, and they give tips on how to use demographics to engage your customers, even on how to rank a customer’s participation in the groundswell. I am a big fan of their graphs and have started to use these theories already in my own work.

Which brings me to my conclusion: excellent writing style. The examples and the data are woven together seemlessly so I forgot I was reading a business book and just enjoyed the learning.


Hello!

I just wanted to tell everyone that I am out of town this week, so that was why there was no regular Saturday post. I will return for next week’s post, so please stand by!

Kate the Professional


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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog (maskedgeek.wordpress.com) and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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