The Sharing Economy of Things: Buy, Sell, Lend

The internet has no shortage of online stores. There are millions of websites that cater to online shopping, designed for anybody and everybody who may be interested in what they’re offering. Shops and clearing houses usually represent businesses: big name retailers, wholesalers and vendors. But what about typical users like you and me – isn’t there a way we can get in on buying, selling and trading without having to, ya know, own a business?

Even if you aren’t set up to move volume and even if you don’t have a website of your own, you can still use the Internet to move your goods and get things from other people.  Sure, sites like eBay come to mind, and that particular site is a big part of the the peer-to-peer market system.  But thanks to the sharing economy, eBay has become a forerunner in what is now a spectrum of options that let you sell, trade, and even loan out money from your hand to the hand of another person, all thanks to the cloud.

Online Bidding

bid_iconBidding isn’t a new concept for the internet, but it has created a special niche for buyers and sellers. eBay is easily the biggest of the bunch, and it also stands alone as a peer-to-peer site. The rundown (in case you aren’t familiar with online auctions) is straightforward: anyone with things to sell can set up an account on eBay, take some pictures of the item and list it.

Another user can find the item, bid for it and/or buy directly from you. Even if you don’t want to list the item yourself, you can use the eBay service (now called Valet) that allows you to mail the item to an eBay processing center so that they can list it for you. Continue reading

The Windows RDP: What is it and why should I care?

Many of us use our home computers for a few simple tasks. We email. We do a bit of internet surfing. We play with our digital pictures, file taxes or write reports. But your home computer is capable of much more than Facebook and Word. There are dozens of features on your computer that you may be completely unaware of that can change the way you use your computer.

What if, for example, you could use your home computer to remotely access your work computer or vice versa?  Among all of the apps, languages, and camera settings within the catalog of Windows Utilities, you’ll find RDP, or remote desktop protocol.

You probably don’t even know it’s there

RDP is simply the ability to access one computer from another. If you are sick and need to work from home one day, you might use RDP to login to your work computer to grab the files and programs you need to make your day productive from the home office.

ICON_linked_computersOf course something like RDP comes with plenty of requirements and cautionary notes, but at the heart of the utility is simplicity and connectivity. A client computer, like your home computer, can log into a remote host computer, like your work one, with relative ease allowing you to commute easily or allowing you to collaborate with others in a myriad of ways. Continue reading

Zero-Day Malware: Six Steps to Avoid and Evade

It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie and perhaps it could be, in a sense.  In all those movies where the self-proclaimed “hackers” pound the keyboards with super-fast clicks, it seems so easy to get access to a bank account, or a security system, or – ya know – a top secret government facility.

In real life, hacking isn’t done so easily or quickly, but as more an more hacking attacks break the news, the vulnerabilities found in the security framework of companies like Target®, JP Morgan® and Anthem® are becoming all too prominent.  Of course, your home computer isn’t a big company. That doesn’t mean it isn’t vulnerable to attacks.

Zero-day malware is a way to describe tools that help hackers exploit vulnerabilities. The reason and old idea gets a new name is because of the rate at which these attacks can be formulated and carried out.

What is it?

zero-day_iconThe term zero-day malware has been applied to different things all in the same category of threat. It is perhaps best to think of zero-day malware as more of a family name than a single label. The top items inside the “zero-day malware family” include:

• An attack using a vulnerability in software that was there from the beginning. A sneak attack using a crack in a digital foundation, if you will.

• A virus that is deployed through a sneak attack. This includes just about any type of malware under the sun.

What makes the zero-day malware unique in regards to all of the other malware we hear so much about is how it is sent to unsuspecting users. Continue reading

The Sharing Economy and the Cloud: Your Reputation

icon_cloud_trust1In the past, we’ve talked about the fact that everything you put on the internet is there forever. In the good old pre-Internet days, if someone said bad things about you, it was either to your face or to a limited circle of people behind your back.  The Web has provided a way for that limited circle to potentially reach around the globe.  When someone expresses a negative opinion about you or your company, the whole world can see it, and it never goes away completely.

Of course, most people know not to believe everything they read online. But there are also people who think, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” That’s why you need to be aware of your online reputation and know what you can do to protect it, especially if you’re a business owner or professional. When this is the case, your reputation is more than just your face, it’s the face of the bottom line.

icon_cloud_trust3Most reputable websites offer a way to remove false or incorrect information.  But that’s not the issue here. If the post is a non-aggressive opinion or a genuine criticism, there’s often nothing you can do. You can always (and should) do the due diligence: respond to legit criticism and report hate and abuse.  And never ever neglect your online persona, but take the time to create positive posts, blogs, and other data that will push any negative information farther down the search engine food chain.

Of course, that is time; and it is trouble.  That’s why there are companies such as Reputation.com (www.reputation.com) and Cyber Investigation Services (www.cyberinvestigationservices.com) that will help for a fee if you feel that you’ve been defamed online.  And if your pockets aren’t quite that deep, there are several social networking websites that can help you do it yourself.

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The Sharing Economy & the Cloud: Services On the Go

The internet has always brought people together – but it’s bringing people together in totally new ways by taking new connections between strangers off-line. People are on the move and user-based programs are helping them get where they want to be. Like so many things with the internet, there are some huge advantages to these new services, and perhaps a few disadvantages as well.

Car Services

You may have seen names like Über or Lyft in the headlines recently. This isn’t because the services have done anything wild or crazy, but because they seem to make so much sense. The way these car services work varies slightly by company, but the premise is the same.

If you need a ride, rather than pay the high prices the taxi and van companies charge, why not pay less for a ride from someone going the same direction you are? This is like digital carpooling or freelance chauffeurs.

There are differences, of course, BlaBlaCar operates in Europe for long-distance travel between cities. Users can rate themselves on how chatty they are the car as well to be sure you get a good match. Are you Bla? Or perhaps BlaBlaBla? BlaBlaCar doesn’t allow drivers to profit either – just charge riders for gas and tolls.

Uber_iconUber and Lyft are the more common names in online ride sharing. Über is more professional with its car services and charges a bit more than Lyft, which is more laid back. Über more closely resembles the traditional taxi service with a formal driver and quiet ride while Lyft can be chatty and more casual as a form of transportation.

lyft_iconMake a request online and someone will swing by to pick you up, take you where you’re going and charge you what usually amounts to a price notably less than you’d pay for a cab driver to do the same thing.

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