All posts by Stuart Dyckhoff

VPN Services for Free with Kepard’s Giveaway

 

kepard-logo 2

This is an era in which online security has never been more important and yet so challenging to obtain. Hacking is growing to be a common issue, and that opens the doors to malware, viruses, and government monitoring of all kinds. To prevent these risks, you need the ultimate in security, and Kepard has top of the line VPN service available now. The best news is that you can even get it for free with an impressive three month giveaway.

That’s right! Kepard VPN is up for grabs to 3 lucky winners through their amazing new giveaway. They are handing out ten premium VPN accounts, which means complete access to all of the impressive features. Winners get to enjoy everything for free – including the absence of bandwidth limitations and slowdown from data transfers! You will get to experience the ultimate in Internet security, and learn how affordable it is.

Why Would You Need This?

Are you still considering whether you need VPN or not? This giveaway is the ideal time to see for yourself just how important security is, plus you get to witness just how easy it is to start using a VPN account. Kepard’s VPN services give you total security through such options as US, Canadian, UK,  and German VPN services, as well as access to a new server in the Netherlands.

Keep in mind that the use of a Kepard VPN accounts ensures that you get the utmost in security and privacy. You can head directly into sites that your country may have blacklisted or even restricted. This means no fears of repercussions or censorship. You also get protection from the malware and viruses that hackers and dubious websites can deliver as well.

Getting Started

By now you are probably ready to sign on for the giveaway. Below are the easy steps required to get yourself a shot at three months of free VPN service:

1. Use the comment section at the bottom to let us know precisely why you should be a winner of a free, premium VPN account in this giveaway.
2. Alert your Twitter followers about the giveaway by tweeting: You can win 1 of 3 free VPN accounts from @kepard (RT to enter).
3. Use your Facebook account to visit the Kepard Facebook page. Give the page a “Like” and then return to see if you are one of the lucky winners.
4. Full T&C’s are available from Kepard direct.

Deadline Info

You can consider this giveaway will end on this blog on June 30th 2014.

 

We wish you the best of luck and hope you are soon securely surfing with a VPN account!

 

 

 

 

 

VPN Services for Free with Kepard’s Giveaway is a post from: churchTechy

5 Common Security Fails

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2664

Image by Stuart Miles – via FreeDigitalPhotos

How often do you think about security?

I’d hazard a guess that if you are a non-techy then you will happily go out, buy a computer and surf away without a thought or care as to the dangers you are opening yourself too. So what are, in my opinion, the top 5 most common ways we as users don’t care about enough?

1. Password Strength.
I and others have said many, many times that security starts with a good password. However it doesn’t end there. Again I’ll hazard a guess (and one based on personal observation let alone stats) that you will use the same password or minor variations on it to secure your access to all sorts of things. Using strong** passwords is just too much effort – but when your online life gets taken over you’ll regret those easy passwords.

** What do I mean by strong? A password that involves any non-language specific word AND upper & lower case characters AND numerals AND punctuation AND is at least 10 characters long. And don’t tell me they are too hard to remember as there are many tools out there to help you store and generate them. Then all you need to recall is one strong password.

2. Virus / Spam / Adware / Spyware.

I’m lumping these three together as they can all lead to the same ultimate end – loss of data, loss of access, loss of money. How do these get on to your system – well that’s a topic for another time but a good Anti-Virus / Anti-Spam product or products that are kept up to date and used is a must.

3. Social Engineering.

Again this is more common than folks think. How free are we with information that our banks, etc use to “verify” who we are? Last time I phoned my bank, aside from needing my account number and my personal password (see no.1) they probably asked me two questions like my postcode and my mother’s maiden name. Both these are so easily available as to be laughable.

4. eMail.

No, not your sending of an email but the phishing, pharming, spoofing, etc emails that you probably receive on a regular basis. How many times have you heard a security expert say not to click an unknown link and then you’ve gone and done just that? What about that random eMail from a friend with a link? The proper approach here is to trust nothing and nobody unless you specifically requested it.

5. Unpatched Software.

I can hear *nix (and that includes Mac) users sniggering. However security holes are found all the time. Not just operating systems but the stuff we use probably daily like our browsers, java, flash, etc.

Now these 5 are not an exhaustive list and I’ve very much glossed over each of them and that was deliberate. The point of this brief post is to get you thinking. Get you considering. If it makes you change your habits then great but if equally you want to know more then please just ask or Google it.

5 Common Security Fails is a post from: churchTechy

Recommended Utilities.

Image courtesy of: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2023This post was originally published on, Panoptic, my soon to be defunct generic blog

CAVEAT: This list is not mine. I was going to create one when I got a recent issue of ‘Windows Secrets’ newsletter where this list was. No point re-inventing the wheel but all credit and kudos goes to WS and its readers.

(Note: Each product is linked to it’s information/download page online. Products have been recommended by Windows Secrets contributors except where noted.)

Diagnostics and repair

Total system

Operating system

Hard drive

Mobility

Entertainment

Imaging applications

General Utilities

Security

Networking

On demand antivirus scanners

Password vaults

System/application updating

Recommended Utilities. is a post from: churchTechy

Assassins Creed III – a different view

ac3

This post was originally published on, Panoptic, my soon to be defunct generic blog

I like games.

And I love the Assassins Creed type of game. Or at least I did.

AC3 so far has been a right royal tour of ‘not agains‘ or ‘just what is the purpose of this‘ or ‘why‘ coming from my mouth. Mainstream media outlets typically appear to love it giving it on average 6/10 – myself, I’d have to apply a different scale.

Beauty – 9/10
Blood & Guts – 9/10
Size of Game 10/10
Action Sequences 5/10
Control System – 5/10
Overall Gameplay  – 3/10

It is undoubtedly a game that will take many hours, or weeks in my case, to complete but unlike it’s predecessor I sadly see me running out of patience with it and either selling on eBay or giving to another family member.

For a start there is no real information provided with the game and if this is your first intro to the AC series then you’re going to be lost the first time you are asked to do an air assassination. The first, so the mag and online reviews say, 5 to 10 hours of gameplay are seriously tedious. You hop from a short ‘do this’ action sequence to watching a cut-scene and not all of the cut scenes can be skipped. For me, a veteran of the AC series (which to date I have loved) this process is seriously frustrating. I just want to play a game and not listen to Ubisoft’s re-working of history.

Next up is the the control system – which has allegedly had an overhaul to make it better. Only trouble is I have yet to find any clear description on how to use the control system. As an example, you get introduced to the new way of hiring and controlling assassins reasonably early on and you quite often get an on-screen prompt that urges you to call for help – only trouble being that when you try to, then unless all you ever do is play games then the system is a nightmare to work out.

I’m not alone in my opinion either:

IGN: “…but it’s not consistently brilliant. Not everything about the game gels together convincingly and the missions’ unnecessary prescriptiveness sometimes undermines the sense of freedom that the rest of the game works so hard to create.

EuroGamer: “It’s true that the game mechanics and engine are showing their age in places. Riding a horse through the Frontier is a constant frustration as it seems to snag on every rock, branch and tuft of flora. Racing through cities on foot can be fraught as well,

gamesTM: “and it soon becomes abundantly clear that Ubisoft’s self-indulgent fascination with its own storytelling impedes the gameplay on a fundamental level.

And so on they go.

All of these sites rightly praise the quality of the coding for creating such a large open world to explore, but it’s tedious, extremely frustrating and ultimately I don’t see me completing it.

I say save your money and treat someone to a meal instead.

EDIT: Having nearly completed AC: Black Flag I strongly urge anyone that is new to this franchise to skip AC3 and jump straight to Black Flag. Your pocket will thank you if nothing else.

Assassins Creed III – a different view is a post from: churchTechy

Six Pillars of Character

This post was originally published on, Panoptic, my soon to be defunct generic blog.

Image courtesy of: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=3062I often wonder, if I was starting again, how I would discover what my character is. Fortunately I have an inquisitive mind and have hunted down the ‘who and what’ I am. But before I dive into the detail let me just say this – Character Matters.

You might ask why, but first let me put across my definition of character:

“Character is the how or why ‘you’ react to any given situation in private and/or how you believe you would react.”

Why does character matter?

Character is who you are. It creates a consistent person who will react the same way in the same situation. It creates the you that doesn’t cave in to peer pressure however unpopular they become or how much ridicule they receive. Character, in a nutshell, is your behavioural traits. It also matters because  it is how others judge (rightly or wrongly) you. Do you want to be judged as a good or bad time keeper? As someone that will keep their word or not? As honest or a liar? And so on. What you decide – and understand this, it is your decision – to do or think in any given situation.

If you don’t know your character then it is highly likely you will believe one thing in private but act in a contrary way when in public. In my book this just leads to anxiety or even stress. Neither of these are healthy.

How do you determine what your character is?

You can ask others and you’ll probably get a list of stuff like; honest, good time keeper, dependable, etc… but when you ask you rarely find someone that is 100% honest with you. Would you tell someone their character is boring or dis-honest? You may gossip about that to others but won’t say it to their face?

Another option is to do one of the many character tests (more commonly called personality tests) and end up with a bunch of letters that define your character. So for example, a test I’ve just done defines me as a “Guardian Provider ESFJ”. The trouble with these tests is that they try and fit you into a narrow box. So you are either one thing or another with no options for being somewhere in between. To me, only two of the letters accurately reflect who I think am. That’s the E & S as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The other two are only partially correct. For example F (or Feeling) is partially defined as “When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic” now whilst I would consider myself a logical person I disagree that I give more weight to social in making a decision. Equally J (or Judgement) states “They derive a sense of control through predictability” which is so far removed from my actual trait as to be wrong. But these ‘tests’ can point you in the right direction.

I prefer to spend time thinking about six areas and answering questions based around those areas:

  1. Trustworthiness.
  2. Respect.
  3. Responsibility.
  4. Fairness.
  5. Caring.
  6. Citizenship

These areas are known as the “Six Pillars”.

If you haven’t ever done this then I urge you to do so. Sit down and consider each of the six sections above and start determining your character.

Why does it matter?

When you understand the who, what and why of your character it becomes easier to always make consistent choices. It becomes easier to make hard choices. You’ll find others will understand you better or respect you more or trust more or … and so on and so on.

So, let me ask this: Who and What makes you you?

Six Pillars of Character is a post from: churchTechy

Chatwing – a guest post

Chatwing LogoHow Android Users Can Expand their Horizons with Chatwing Chat Box

In the modern age, the World Wide Web has helped thousands of people reach their goals. They can accomplish business transactions in just few clicks of the mouse, or watch their favourite videos without even spending money. After the Internet boom, the Android community began catching up, and more web users are spending time browsing in their smart phones instead of personal computers. Realizing this paradigm shift, Chatwing.com—one of the leading providers of chat software—started reaching out to people.

The Chatwing Experience

Chatwing is more than just any piece of online widget that you can find out there. It is a versatile web application that can increase connectivity by a significant percentage. Since it is a chat room, you can communicate with hundreds of visitors in one sitting. The Chatwing experience is not just about connection—it also enhances the meaning of ownership in the vast world of cyber space.

Basically, you can consider Chatwing as a plot of land that you can obtain for free. Yes—all you need to do is to register in Chatwing’s main website, and you are good to go. But the registration is just the first step of the real Chatwing experience.

Social Media Emphasis

A web application that doesn’t utilize the power of social media is operating on a very limited premise. Many things can be accomplished in social media, such as message delivery, marketing processes, and awareness campaigns. Chatwing utilizes social media through having Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Tumblr and Instagram login methods. Now, Chatwing users will have greater opportunities to communicate with each other.

Benefits for Android Users

Through mobile chatting, Android users can expand their horizons comfortably. Android users are not just ‘renting’ the Chatwing service—they are owners of chat rooms and they can use these as often as they want. They can also avail premium services to increase the viability of their chat rooms.

Chatwing is a dynamic web chat tool, so it is bound to change. Now, people can expect for more connectivity opportunities in the long run.

Chatwing can be found here: http://chatwing.com/

Chatwing – a guest post is a post from: churchTechy

Links of Interest

There are certain types of blog posts I  have always enjoyed reading and to this day that type still draws me in.

They typically have a two fold approach. First they are a short list and second they are links to other sites, other posts, other ideas that the blog author found interesting that week. So here I am introducing my own version of that. I’m aiming to do this type of post at least twice a month (maybe more) and one thing to clarify up front is that they won’t always be about this blogs core aim.

So onwards.

  1. Where is the fun in specializing as a photographer? A great read from Colby Brown and if you don’t want to read then just look at the stunning pictures.
  2. Turn Day Into Night in Photoshop. In this video tutorial Howard Pinsky takes you through converting a day time shot into a realistic night shot.
  3. Smart Travel Router. Need a world travel plug, USB charger and router in one small reasonably priced box? Then Satechi have you covered.
  4. Dublin City Guide. Only because I’m off here very shortly for a long weekend I’ve spent a fair bit of time on this site.

 

Links of Interest is a post from: churchTechy

When Support Is Just Plain Wrong

Image courtesy of: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2617 Yes folks, I’m still alive.

As someone that has worked in the support side of a technical field for almost 3o years I find that sometimes the advice that support people or pages put out is so wrong that it has to be documented.

So when my new Google Nexus 4 phone and my slightly older Nexus 7 tablet have an identical issue with one specific app I suspect there’s one of two issues at play.

– either the app doesn’t play nice with Nexus kit

– or the Nexus kit doesn’t play nice with the app.

Within those two options are a myriad of sub-options but they all boil down to that in reality. So I head off to the app support page – and the only clue you get as to the App itself is that they recently tweeted that “The xyzApp is about to hit #100million installs!” – anyway, a quick search in their knowledge base brings me to a page titled “xyzApp will not open”.

On it are 5 steps you can try – step 3 says to power off the device, leave it a few minutes and then try again. OK, this one I get and can understand but the next step leaves me speechless:

Power off the device and leave it off overnight.  Then retry.

What?

Yes, you read that right. Overnight.

Sorry people but powering off an otherwise normally functioning device overnight does not solve a software / hardware clash. I get the power cycle as it clears gunk out of RAM, etc and gives one a clean slate. I even get removing the battery for a few seconds to completely shut down the device and clear any residual trace of power that may somehow hang on to something that may just affect the normal working of an App.

But please … do tell me what powering off overnight achieves?

When Support Is Just Plain Wrong is a post from: churchTechy