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Barbara Larson

Barbara Larson

Buffer has just released its State of Social 2018 report. It is based on interviews with over 1,700 social media marketers.  The use of live video is growing year over year. The report features insights into why some social media managers reported success with live videos while others did not.

Live Video is a Growing Trend

Publishing the live video on social media platforms is not mainstream. However, the practice is growing. This is what Buffer says about it:

Live video hasn’t yet caught on (only 31 percent of marketers have broadcast live video)

In our last State of Social report, 26 percent of marketers said they had created live video content. In 2017, 31 percent of marketers said they had broadcast live content—just a 5 percent increase…

While a 5% increase may not sound like much of an increase, that’s still an upward trend. This is a new way of communicating with customers and potential customers, but the evidence is that it is becoming more and more mainstream.

How Effective is Live Video?

According to Facebook, live video is six times more effective at generating interactions than non-live videos. Buffer’s 2018 State of Social Report indicates that of those who used live videos 60% reported they found them effective, while only 10% found live videos ineffective. That’s a remarkable statistic.

That feedback doesn’t tell the whole story, however. If you dig down into the data and count up how effective live video was, you get a different picture.

As you can see, of those 60% that found live video effective, the majority, 36%, found it to be somewhat effective, while only 24% found it to be very effective. This may be a normal distribution of success as in any marketing activity. It could also be a reflection that live videos are more appropriate for certain industries than others.

Why is Live Video Ineffective for Some?

Of the 10% who reported who reported that live video was ineffective, fully 92% of them indicated that they only rarely used live video as part of their social media strategy. Social media managers who reported a lack of success were using live videos only once every few months. That might indicate that those who found it ineffective weren’t putting much effort into live videos.

How Often Should Live Videos be Published?

While 55% of those who found success published live videos on a regular basis, 45% of those who found success published live videos every few months. However, if we break down those numbers by daily, weekly, etc. we get a different picture entirely. It turns out that only 1% of successful live video creators published videos on a daily basis. Below is a graph showing that the biggest group of successful publishers are actually those who published live videos every few months.  Below is a graph showing the breakdown of how often live videos were published by those who reported that live videos were effective.

Quality not Quantity of Live Videos?

What separates those who found success posting live videos every few months versus those who posted at a similar frequency but found them ineffective? The survey doesn’t tell us. One can guess however that the relevance to users and effective promotion may have something to do with the success of those who posted live videos every few months.

The takeaway is that how often live videos are posted isn’t a guarantee of success.  Like anything else, the quality and relevance to the audience may play a role. It may be that success with live videos may be similar to pay per click advertising, where context, relevance and answering the question of “What’s in it for me?” works best.

The full State of Social 2018 report can be downloaded here as a Google Sheet.

Images by Shutterstock, modified by Author

Graphs and bar charts by Author

 Source: This article was published By Roger Montti

What would you do if your most private information was suddenly available online, for anyone to see? Just imagine: picturesvideos, financial information, emails...all accessible without your knowledge or consent to anyone who cares to look for it.  We've probably all seen news items come out about various celebrities and political figures who have been less careful than they should be with information that was not meant for public consumption.

Without proper oversight of this sensitive information, it can become available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Keeping information safe and protected online is a growing concern for many people, not just political figures and celebrities. It's smart to consider what privacy precautions you might have in place for your own personal information: financial, legal, and personal. In this article, we're going to go over five practical ways you can start protecting your privacy while online to guard yourself against any potential leaks, avoid embarrassment, and keep your information safe and secure.

Create Unique Passwords and Usernames for Each Online Service

Many people use the same usernames and passwords across all their online services. After all, there are so many, and it can be difficult to keep track of a different login and password for all of them. If you're looking for a way to generate and keep track of multiple secure passwords, KeePass is a good option, plus it's free: "KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way.

You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish)."

Don't Assume Services are Safeguarding Your Information

Online storage sites such as DropBox do a pretty good job of keeping your information safe and secure. However, if you're concerned that what you're uploading is especially sensitive, you should encrypt it - services like BoxCryptor will do that for you for free (tiered pricing levels do apply).

Be Careful Sharing Information Online

We're asked to fill out forms or log into a new service all the time on the Web. What is all this information used for? Companies make a lot of money analyzing and using the data that we are freely giving them. If you'd like to stay a little bit more private, you can use BugMeNot to avoid filling out unnecessary forms that ask for too much personal information and keep it for other uses.

Never Give Out Private Information

We should all know by now that giving out personal information (name, address, phone number, etc.) is a big no-no online. However, many people don't realize that the information that they are posting on forums and message boards and social media platforms can be put together piece by piece to create a complete picture. This practice is called "doxxing", and is becoming more of a problem, especially since many people use the same username across all of their online services.

In order to avoid this happening, be extremely cautious in how much information you're giving out, and make sure you don't use the same username across services (see the first paragraph in this article for a quick review!).

Log Out of Sites Often

Here's a scenario that happens all too often: John decides to take a break at work, and during that time, he decides to check his bank balance. He gets distracted and leaves the bank balance page up on his computer, leaving secure information out for anyone to see and use. This kind of thing happens all the time: financial information, social media logins, email, etc.

can all be compromised extremely easily. The best practice is to make sure you're on a secure computer (not public or work) when you're looking at personal information, and to log out of any site you might be using on a public computer so that other people who have access to that computer will not be able to access your information. 

Prioritize Online Privacy

Let's face it: while we'd like to think that everyone we come in contact with has our best interests at heart, this is sadly not always the case — and especially applies when we're online. Use the tips in this article to protect yourself from unwanted leaks of your personal information on the web. 

Source: This article was published By Jerri Collins

Google advanced search lets you cut through internet clutter – and there’s no shortage of clutter on the internet – to zero in on exactly the search results you are looking for.

Google advanced search has applications for web users of all stripes, and especially for ecommerce entrepreneurs: Simple google search tricks make it easier to identify opportunities, scope out competitors, and understand how Google (and Google users) sees your store.

After all, you don’t always want Google to give you 5,010,371 pages to choose from. Sometimes you want to know something precise. For example, which websites are linking to your store. Or how easy it is to find products in your store. Or what your competitors are selling.

Now, not all advanced Google searches are relevant for ecommerce. For example, Google Search’s nifty “timer” feature – which opens up a timer if you type something like “15 minutes timer” – probably isn’t going to help you scale. But there are a number of Google advanced searches that will turn Google Search into your personal market research lab.

This post will go over the most useful advanced Google search features, and look at how you can use them to optimize your ecommerce business.

What is Google Advanced Search?

Google advanced search is a way to customize your Google searches with a set of special instructions. Known as operators and commands, these advanced Google search instructions tell Google that you don’t want to search the entire internet, front to back and top to bottom, and are instead interested in more specific queries.

Your parents probably wouldn’t ever use advanced Google search. A couple reasons why. First off, the commands that you have to feed Google are simple but not necessarily obvious; it would be hard to guess Google advanced search commands. Second, your parents probably wouldn’t need to use advanced Google search. These searches are designed to run very specific, particular queries.

This might all make more sense once we look at some examples, so let’s dive in.

Exact Search

What it is: Exact search is the most basic advanced Google search. (Your parents actually probably could pull this one off.) All you’re doing with this Google search trick is putting quotation marks around your search terms. This tells Google that you want results for exactly what’s inside the quotes. Google is already pretty good at mind-reading, but these quotes let you remove any confusion and ensure the most relevant results.

When to use it: Use this advanced Google search when you only want results that contain a precise phrase.

What it looks like:

Exact search in Google

OR Search

What it is: Using OR (it has to be upper-case!) lets you search for multiple separate search terms. Unlike the exact search, which narrows your results, this advanced Google search broadens your query to bring you more results.

When to use it: There are a couple scenarios where you might want to use this Google advanced search. First, it is great for when you are looking for information that might be found with multiple search terms, like “french press” and “cafetiere”. It’s also good if you don’t know the best phrase to find the info the info you’re looking for.

NOTE: If the OR isn’t upper-case, then Google might think you’re trying to figure out a linguistic question, like whether you should use towards or toward. This will bring up results explaining how British English and American English differ. So remember – OR!


Exclusion Search

What it is: This advanced Google search lets you exclude certain items from your search results. It’s like ordering a cheeseburger and telling the chef to hold the ketchup. This way you can conduct an internet-wide search but ignore results containing your excluded terms.

When to use it: This Google search trick is great for when a word has multiple meanings. If you want browse plants on Amazon, for instance, and don’t want Google to think that you are researching ecological diversity in the Amazon rainforest, then this is the Google advanced search to use.

Exclusion search on Google

Site Search

What it is: This is an advanced Google search that lets you zero in on a specific website or domain. With site search, you are telling Google that you don’t want to search the entire web, but instead just a particular site.

When to use it: This is an awesome Google advanced search trick with multiple applications. Ecommerce entrepreneurs can use it to scope out competitors’ websites. Let’s say you’re in the yoga niche, and you want to know if your competitors over at are selling a certain item. You can tell Google to search only that competitor’s website. You can also use this Google search trick to look for certain words and phrases on your own site. This is especially helpful if you want to search for potential duplicate products or content.

What it looks like:

Site search with Google advanced search

NOTE: Oh! This Google search trick has an opposite – instead of typing, you type Then you’ll be searching the entire web with the exception of that one site.

Related Search

What it is: The related search advanced Google search lets you find websites that are similar to one another. When you do a related search, Google will spit out results for sites that are in the same ballpark as the one you have singled out.

When to use it: For ecommerce aficionados, related search is perfect for scoping out competition. You can plug in your site to a related search, and then Google will automatically pull up other sites on the web that are similar. This would let you do some market research on the products they are selling, prices, and more.

What it looks like:

Related search in Google

Price search

What it is: Price search is an advanced Google search command that lets you tell Google to find a specific product at a specific price. So instead of going to an online store to look for something, you can use Google to search the entirety of the web. You just type in a product, followed by a price (use a dollar sign to specify that you’re looking for a price).

When to use it: As an ecommerce store owner, you can use this Google advanced search to see how products in your niche are priced. If you are in the pet niche and you want to add a dog sweater to your store, then use the price search to find a range for dog sweater prices around the web.

What it looks like:

Price search with Google

NOTE: There’s a hack you can add to this advanced Google search: Make it a price range instead of an exact price. This price range Google search trick lets you dig a little deeper as you investigate how to price your products. To use a range instead of an exact number, simply add two periods between the prices in your price range. Like so: dog sweater $13..$17.

Link Search

What it is: Unlike a normal search, where Google scours the web for certain terms, link search is an advanced Google search for finding links between websites. If any website links to the site in your search, you’ll see it in the search results.

When to use it: Use this advanced Google search when you want Google to know that you’re not interested in content, but rather the links contained within that content. So if you want to know, for example, which websites are linking to your website, use link search. You might also use it to look at which websites are linking to your competition so that you can reach out and get a link of your own.

What it looks like:

A link search with Google

 All In Text, and All In URL

What it is: We’re lumping these three advanced Google search tricks together because they perform the same function – just on different parts of the page.

All in title lets you track down pages that have a specific set of words in the title, and discard pages that don’t have the magical text in the title. All in-text does the same, but instead of scanning titles, it’s an advanced Google search that scans the text of posts and pages. Finally, all in URL lets you-you guessed it. You can find pages that have certain terms in the URL.

When to use it: These advanced Google search tricks are awesome for determining the most common phrasing that your competition uses for certain products. You could try to outrank them on those same phrases, or you could combine advanced Google search results with keyword research to identify low-hanging fruit. For example, if you sell smartphone accessories, and you notice that there are thousands of titles, pages, and URLs that contain “smartphone case” but very few that contain “smartphone holder,” you might have just identified a micro-niche that is underserved.

What it looks like: (“allintitle” can be swapped out for “allintext” and “allinurl”)


NOTE: You can ditch the “all” in any of these advanced Google searches to combine search queries. For example, if you want to know whether “durable” is a big selling point for other stores selling iPhone cases, you could do a search like this: iphone cases intext:durable. That would give you a Google search for iPhone cases, and limit things to iPhone cases that are described in the text as being durable. You could do the same search but use intitle instead of intext, showing you which iPhone case providers think durability is important enough to mention in the title of a page.


What it is: Autocomplete – yes, that same autocomplete that we use to find song lyrics and movie titles – can be used as part of your advanced Google search arsenal. Google knows which terms and phrases people use in combination, and will fill in the blanks whether you are looking for elusive words to an early-90s chorus or doing market research for your ecommerce store.

When to use it: Ecommerce merchants can use autocomplete for a variety of functions. For example, you can compare products; determine which products often appear together; and figure out the keywords and phrases that Google most commonly associates with your products.

What it looks like:

Autocomplete results from Google

Google offering suggestions to complete a search

Missing Words

What it is: This is a more formal way of doing the same sort of thing that you’d do with autocomplete. Instead of starting a search query and then letting Google suggest ways to finish it, you tell Google exactly which piece of the puzzle you’re missing.

When to use it: If you want Google to fill in a blank for you, then you’ll want to use the missing words advanced Google search. This Google search trick is often used to finish a phrase. For example, cry over * milk.

What it looks like:

Google search with missing word

Bonus! Funny Google Advanced Searches

Before we wrap things up, here are three goofy Google search tricks that will help you kill a minute or two.

Google “do a barrel roll” and the Google search page will literally spin in a circle.

Google “google in 1998” to see what Google search looked like a decade ago.

Google “define anagram” – which is a word or phrase created by moving around the letters from different words or phrases – and Google will ask, “Did you mean: nerd fame again”. Get it?

Source: This article was published By David Vranicar

As a follow up to our recent article on how to spot and stop phishing attempts, we’re now going to focus on the difficulty of recognising phishing and email spoofing attempts on mobile devices and how to overcome this.

img src="" alt="Email spoofing: Mobile spoof email can be hard to detect" width="432" height="364" srcset=" 370w,

Beware the email address

Sometimes a spoof email seems to be from someone famous or well known, to attract the attention of the recipient.  Otherwise, it may be a trusted brand name. More sophisticated scams will appear to be from someone the user knows, usually through work. Email spoofing addresses tend to be a mixture of letters, numbers and meaningless words. Depending on the type of device and app you are using, this may be more difficult to spot on a mobile device as they often just display the sender’s “Friendly name” and the email address itself is more difficult to find.

To display the sender’s email address you’ll need to open the email. At the top, underneath the “From” and “To” lines, you should find a link entitled “Details” or “View detail.

img src="" alt="Email spoofing: How to view a sender's email address on mobile" width="236" height="430" srcset=" 236w,
Once clicked, this will expand the “From” and “To” details so that you may view the email address of the sender and details as to when the message was received.

Watch what they ask for and how they ask for it

Spoof emails will be asking for something from you, this may include money, passwords or sensitive information. Legitimate banks or companies will never ask for personal credentials over email so don’t give them up.  High-end brands are extremely cautious with their spelling, punctuation, and grammar so if an email has many spelling mistakes, it’s likely that the email is trying to spoof you.

 Treat all links as suspicious

 Malware and ransomware can be spread when victims unwittingly click on an untoward download link. Phishers will also send links that take the user to a convincing looking corporate website where they are encouraged to enter personal information such as credit card details.

If you’re on a PC, you can use your mouse to hover over any link in an email to view the destination web address. As with the email address, if the destination web address is a random mixture of numbers and letters, be wary of it. Likewise, if the website address is mis-spelled this is a red-flag that can be easily missed eg On a mobile device, you won’t have a mouse, but you can still check the link by holding your finger down on it. Unlike a short tap, which would open the link, holding your finger on it will cause a new dialogue window to pop up, showing you what the destination web address is but without actually following the link.

As is always our advice, if you are in any doubt, check! Don’t put your personal details or business in jeopardy. By making sure that everyone is aware of tactics used in email spoofing and know how to verify the original source of an email, you can save wasted time, effort and resources in the future.

Source: This article was published By Beaming Support

FILE - CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate Intelligence hearing during his nomination process, in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.

WASHINGTON — If this week’s WikiLeaks document dump is genuine, it includes a CIA list of the many and varied ways the electronic device in your hand, in your car, and in your home can be used to hack your life.

It’s simply more proof that, “it’s not a matter of if you’ll get hacked, but when you’ll get hacked.” That may be every security expert’s favorite quote, and unfortunately, they say it’s true. The WikiLeaks releases include confidential documents the group says exposes “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

The CIA has refused to confirm the authenticity of the documents, which allege the agency has the tools to hack into smartphones and some televisions, allowing it to remotely spy on people through microphones on the devices.

Watch: New Generation of Hackable Internet Devices May Always Be Listening

Screenshot 1

WikiLeaks also claimed the CIA managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their officers to bypass the encryption on popular services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram.

For some of the regular tech users, news of the leaks and the hacking techniques just confirms what they already knew. When we’re wired 24-7, we are vulnerable.

“The expectation for privacy has been reduced, I think,” Chris Coletta said, “... in society, with things like WikiLeaks, the Snowden revelations ... I don’t know, maybe I’m cynical and just consider it to be inevitable, but that’s really the direction things are going.”

The internet of things

The problem is becoming even more dangerous as new, wired gadgets find their way into our homes, equipped with microphones and cameras that may always be listening and watching.

One of the WikiLeaks documents suggests the microphones in Samsung smart TV’s can be hacked and used to listen in on conversations, even when the TV is turned off.

Security experts say it is important to understand that in many cases, the growing number of wired devices in your home may be listening to all the time.

“We have sensors in our phones, in our televisions, in Amazon Echo devices, in our vehicles,” said Clifford Neuman, the director of the Center for Computer Systems Security, at the University of Southern California. “And really almost all of these attacks are things that are modifying the software that has access to those sensors so that the information is directed to other locations. Security practitioners have known that this is a problem for a long time.”

Neuman says hackers are using the things that make our tech so convenient against us.

“Certain pieces of software and certain pieces of hardware have been criticized because, for example, microphones might be always on,” he said. “But it is the kind of thing that we’re demanding as consumers, and we just need to be more aware that the information that is collected for one purpose can very easily be redirected for others.”

Tools of the espionage trade

The WikiLeaks release is especially damaging because it may have laid bare a number of U.S. surveillance techniques. The New York Times says the documents it examined layout programs called “Wrecking Crew” for instance, which “explains how to crash a targeted computer, and another tells how to steal passwords using the autocomplete function on Internet Explorer.”

Steve Grobman, chief of the Intel Security Group, says that’s bad not only because it can be done, but also because so-called “bad actors” now know it can be done. Soon enough, he warns, we could find our own espionage tools being used against us.

“We also do need to recognize the precedents we set, so, as offensive cyber capabilities are used ... they do give the blueprint for how that attack took place. And bad actors can then learn from that,” he said.

So how can tech-savvy consumers remain safe? Security experts say they can’t, and to remember the “it’s not if, but when” rule of hacking.

The best bet is to always be aware that if you’re online, you’re vulnerable.

Source: This article was published By Kevin Enochs

Specific answers for specific needs.

When most of us have a question we want to research online, we run to Google for the answer. But it's not the only search engine out there. Venture off the beaten path, and you can find more specialized sites—like the self-proclaimed "computational search engine" Wolfram Alpha or the privacy-conscious DuckDuckGo—that will help you track down exactly what you're looking for. While the well-trained algorithms of Google or even Bing might be the best choice in some situations, to find what you're seeking more quickly, it helps to know which search engine is best for which task.

General interest, personal updates, and games: Google

Let's go ahead and talk about the elephant in the article: When it comes to general searches, Google crushes the competition. It has an extremely well-trained algorithm and offers the largest index of pages—a search for "Mars planet," for example, brings up 5.7 million Google results as opposed to 99,800 Bing ones. That means this search behemoth is still more likely to turn up an obscure blog post, forum message, or online document than any of its rivals, which makes it ideal for researching computer error messages or specialized scientific topics.

On top of its general-interest search chops, Google is great for looking up highly specialized information...about you. Because of the search engine ties in with its other services, such as Gmail and Google Photos, it can pull up your personal data while you're signed into your account. Search for "my flights" or "my trips," and Google will pull details from your booking confirmation emails. On a less fun note, type in "my bills," and Google will sort through your email reminders, using them to show you any upcoming payments you need to make. As for images, try looking up "my photos of Sydney" (replacing the Australian city with your latest vacation destination), or search for photos based on time and date with "my photos from last week or "my photos from July 2014."

Finally, Google makes a great search engine if you're searching for a distraction—specifically a browser-based game. For example, look up "Atari Breakout," switch to the Images tab, and use the cursor keys to control the ensuing action. Similarly, try entering "solitaire," "pac-man," or "tic tac toe" to bring up basic versions of those titles. In addition to games, Google incorporates apps that do serve a purpose: Type "flip a coin" or "roll a die" to do just that, or input "stopwatch," "timer," or "calculator" to display the relevant utilities on screen. Then operate these mini-apps right from their Google results pages.

Images and videos: Bing

Although Bing aims to compete with Google in general search results, one of its real advantages lies in its image and video search abilities. On these results pages, Bing has more filtering options, a better display interface, and excellent suggestions for related searches.

When you're hunting for a video, the results page displays clips in a well-formatted grid rather than a list, making it easier to quickly browse through thumbnails. Bing also triggers an auto-preview feature whenever you hover the mouse cursor over a clip.

As for images, Bing provides extra methods for filtering your results, methods that Google doesn't offer. For example, if you're looking for a particular person, you can focus on only pictures that show faces. It also lets you apply a larger set of image-rights filters.

Images that are free to reuse: Flickr

While Bing lets you filter images based on their rights—how non-owners are allowed to use them—it can't beat the free-image search power of Flickr. Specifically, you can limit your image search to images that photographers have released under Creative Commons licenses, which allow you to repost their work for free, albeit with certain restrictions.

To get started, enter what you're looking for—let's say "cats" for this example—and click Search. Right away, you can adjust the order in which pictures appear by clicking the Relevant drop-down list on the right: Flickr lets you sort pictures by relevance, date, or the "interesting" filter, which elevates pictures that have drawn more activity, such as comments, views, and likes. You can further narrow down your options by color, depth of field, or pattern.

Even once you've limited your list to images you like, not all of them will be free to use. However, images released under Creative Commons often are, although the exact rules governing their use do depend on the specific type of CC license. To see the license under which an image has been released, click the copyright symbol on the lower-right of its photo page. And to filter by license, click the Any license drop-down menu on the left of the search page and limit your results to images released under Creative Commons.

Science and media data: Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha focuses on answering more technical science and math queries. For example, you can balance a chemical equation with a search like "Al + O2 -> Al2O3," look up properties of compounds with "flash point methane, butane, octane," and answer earth science questions like "seismic travel times from San Francisco to Las Vegas." It's equally adept with math equations: Try "circle, diameter=2," to find the properties of that shape, or test out a more complicated figure like "annulus, inner radius=2, outer radius=5." Draw graphs from "plot sin x cos y" to "plot 3x2-2xy+y2=1" and fill out sequences by typing the first few figures: "1, 2, 4, 8, ..."

But while Wolfram Alpha started with math, it has expanded its scope to provide data on literature, music, movie, and TV shows. Hit it with queries like "how many words in Hamlet?" to answer all your technical questions. You can also compare two items, such as "Hamlet vs Macbeth," to see how their publication dates, lengths, number of characters mentioned, and other data stack up. You can also compare stats about movies and TV shows in a similar way. Even natural language searches—such as "movies starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro" or "movies with the longest running time"—are fair game.

Of course, the computational search engine manages to add technical information to the mix: Run a query like "first episode of Friends," and Wolfram Alpha will tell you not only when that episode aired, but also how many days ago that date fell and what its sunrise and sunset times were.

Wolfram Alpha

See if Wolfram Alpha can solve your science, math, and media problems.

Wolfram Alpha

Job listings: LinkedIn

Don't neglect the search engines built into the sites you visit every day—these will often lead you to information that's only accessible to users who have signed into the site. In other words, a public search from Google or Bing won't be able to scrape this data.

LinkedIn makes a good example. Next time you go job hunting, start your search by signing into your account. Then click on the search box at the top of the page and choose Jobs. Hit All filters to see all the ways you can limit your results, including by experience level and industry. Limit them further by entering a job title and location in the fields at the top. Finally, click Search, and you're on your way.

Looking for potential new connections on LinkedIn is just as straightforward. Click in the box at the top, choose People, and click All filters. Now you can browse by name, title, location, company, industry, and more. Review the tick boxes on the right to filter for people you know directly (click 1st) or people connected to your existing contacts (click 2nd or 3rd+).

Private questions: DuckDuckGo

There's one big problem with search engines: The companies behind them keep track of what you're looking for. If you'd prefer to keep your browsing history private, then you need DuckDuckGo. It doesn't keep records of your searches, won't feed you personalized results, and refuses to provide fodder for targeted ads. DuckDuckGo also preserves your privacy as you browse elsewhere—so a search for "smartphones" won't cause an endless series of phone advertisements to begin appearing as you bounce around other sites. It's almost as if you never ran that search.

Beyond its focus on privacy, DuckDuckGo acts as a fast and comprehensive search engine, letting you hunt for images and videos as well as websites. It also enables you to restrict results by country or by publication date. Finally, you can search individual sites through the DuckDuckGo interface using a tool it calls Bangs: Try entering "!amazon shoes" or "!Wikipedia apollo missions" into the search bar to see how they work.

There are two types of searches that really benefit from DuckDuckGo's enhanced privacy. First, there's the secret inquiries that you really don't want Google keeping track of (particularly if you share a computer with others). When you decide to look up that weird rash that you don't want anyone to know about, do it on DuckDuckGo. Second, you should use the privacy-conscious search if you're searching for a product but don't want to receive ads about it for the rest of your life.

Source: This article was published By David Nield

Gmail supports a plethora of search operators to help you instantly find that elusive email message buried in your mailbox. You have size search – like larger_than:5mb – to find the big messages in your account. File search – like has:attachment filename:doc – will locate email messages that contain file attachments of specific types. This graphic illustrates all the known search operators that work both on Gmail and Google Inbox.

Date Search in Gmail

Date search in Gmail helps you locate emails sent or received in a specific period. Here are some examples:

  • newer_than:7d from:me – Emails sent in the last 7 days
  • after:2016/12/01 to:me – Emails received in the month of December 2016

Specify Time Modifiers in Gmail Search

Gmail also supports time-based searches allowing you to find emails in the specific hour, minute or second. For instance, you can limit your Gmail search to emails that were received between Dec 10 8:15 PM and Dec 10, 2016 8:45 PM.

To get started, convert the date and time to Epoch time and then use the timestamp with the standard after or before search operator of Gmail.

For instance, the Epoch time for Dec 10, 2016 8:15 PM is 1481381100 and the Epoch time for Dec 10, 2016 8:45 PM is 1481382900. Use the search query after:1481381100 before:1481382900 and you’ll get a list of all emails received during that 30-minute period.

Epoch time is the number of seconds that have elapsed since January 1, 1970 (UTC). Use the Epoch converter to represent a human readable date and time in Epoch and use that timestamp with the before or after search operator of Gmail to find that elusive email.

Source: This article was published By Amit Agarwal

Friday, 26 January 2018 15:34

Top 5 tools to protect internet privacy

How virtual private networks (VPNs), proxy services, and onion routers help block ISPs (and search engines) from harvesting user data — and which of these internet privacy tools to choose.

Years ago when Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, and hundreds of other organizations began harvesting and monetizing user data, the public outcry resulted in a multitude of internet privacy protection products and services. And with our government deciding to allow internet service providers (ISPs) to engage in that same abuse, users have more options for privacy protection products and services than ever before. There are, literally, hundreds of options available. These are the top five internet privacy solutions, in our view, plus the five "runners up" (below).

Onion routing & combo technologies

1. TOR, the Onion Router, is an open source product/service (which means it's free) that's been around since the mid 1990s. It was originally developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to protect U.S. intelligence communications online. It became the largest, most popular onion routing product/service—called the TOR Project in 2006—and includes the TOR Browser and TOR software.

According to Joshua Gay, TOR Communications Director, TOR protects users against a common form of internet surveillance known as traffic analysis, which is used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. TOR is for web browsers, instant messaging clients, and more. The TOR Browser is a cross-platform, free browser that connects to the TOR network without additional software.

"The TOR software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world," says Gay. "It prevents everybody from watching your internet connection (including your ISP), from learning what sites you visit, and prevents those sites that you visit from learning your physical location and your actual IP address."

2. I2P, founded in 2003, is a free, open-source, worldwide privacy network for secure communications, which travel through tunnels identified by I2P addresses (created by both sender and recipient). Like HTTPS and other privacy programs, I2P uses end-to-end encryption to hide the content of your communications from ISPs. It also uses layered encryption over several hops in each tunnel (aka, onion routing) to hide the metadata. Other applications can be layered on top that provide additional metadata defense, such as the email-like messaging apps, according to Jack Grigg, one of the current developers.

"A key feature of I2P is that the end-to-end nature is built-in," explains Grigg. "Proxies, VPNs, and TOR exit nodes all require you to trust the egress point (the point where your data leaves their network to traverse the regular internet). These points act like remote ISPs; that is, they can see as much of your content and metadata as your ISP could before and—in the case of proxies and VPNs—can trivially link this information to your IP address (which is why it's important that VPNs don’t keep their logs). I2P is not designed as a proxy and, therefore, doesn’t have these trusted points. The only computer that can see your content and metadata is the one you are intentionally sending it to. The downside is that regular websites are not instantly accessible because services need to create an I2P address for their website. The upside is that, usually, this is very easy to do, so ask them!"

Virtual private networks (VPNs)

3. Private Tunnel is a consumer and small business VPN product of OpenVPN Technologies. CEO and co-Founder, Francis Dinha, explains that it masks users' public IP addresses, so they can surf the web anonymously, and shield their networks against cyber-attacks and stalkers. Private Tunnel is integrated with OpenDNS and other anti-malware technologies that enhance the web browsing experience and help users avoid accessing malicious web pages. There are four pricing levels: From Basic service, which is free, to Unlimited service, which is $29.99 a year.

"We literally prevent ISPs from having access to your private information," says Dinha. "All they see, if you're connected to one of our worldwide servers, is an encrypted, jumbled mess. And there's nothing they can do to crack that code. You're essentially locking them out, while you surf the net in total privacy."

"Finding the right VPN can be a challenge because there are so many options," adds Dinha. "Our clients use Private Tunnel to circumvent geo restricted content and to add an additional layer of privacy, protection, and security when using the internet. And, because it does not log browsing activity transmitted through VPN tunnels, users are protected."

4. NordVPN is a tool used to ensure that all information shared over the internet is encrypted and private. It encrypts user data through a secure tunnel before accessing the internet, which protects sensitive information about one’s location by hiding his/her IP address. The only information visible to the ISP is the user's connection to a VPN server, and nothing else. All other information is encrypted by the VPN’s security protocol. There are three pricing levels: $69.00 for a one year commitment ($5.75 a month); $42.00 for a six-month commitment ($7.00 a month); or $11.95 a month for a month-to-month commitment.

According to CMO, Marty P. Kamden, NordVPN is determined to hide and secure users’ data with features such as double data encryption and a strict no logs policy. "From the moment a user turns on NordVPN, his/her internet data becomes encrypted, so it's invisible to governments, ISPs, third party snoopers, and even NordVPN," says Kamden. "We will continue to safeguard internet user privacy and provide assistance and consultations on internet privacy to all our clients. During these times of increasing attacks on internet privacy, VPNs and NordVPN are now playing a major part in user protection.”

Proxy services

5. provides high speed, anonymous proxies and secure VPNs. Its infrastructure provides access to more than 100 locations worldwide. Users get dedicated IP addresses, speeds of 1000 Mbps, 300 plus subnets, and it provides a fully automated, user-friendly control panel for easy management. There are multiple pricing levels that work on sliding scales based on number and type of proxies; e.g., for one private Instagram proxy, it's $4.50 a month for a one-year commitment; $4.83 a month for a six-month commitment; $5.17 a month for a three-month commitment; and $5.50 a month for a month-to-month commitment. Additional pricing levels include Private Proxies, Pokemon Go Proxies, and Classified Ads Proxies.

"For regular, private proxies you pay $15 a month and you get five different, dedicated proxies (i.e., IPs and ports). Dedicated means that during the time when that proxy is allocated to your account, it is only allocated to you and you are the only person who can use it. You can use the five proxies at any time for as much internet traffic as you want and bandwidth is unlimited," says a spokesperson for

And the runners up are:

  • ExpressVPN — VPN is $8.32 to $12.65 a month; Unlimited Bandwidth
  • CyberGhost VPN — Web Proxy is free; VPN is $5.83 to $9.16 a month; Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Hide My Ass! — Web Proxy is free; VPN is $11.52 a month; Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Squid Proxies — 10 proxies for $24 a month; Unlimited Bandwidth
  • My Private Proxy — 10 proxies for $23.70 a month; Unlimited Bandwidth

How we got to this point with internet privacy 

The Senate Joint Resolution 34 (S.J.Res. 34) became public law on April 3, 2017. This resolution invalidates the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rules regarding the protection of user privacy for internet customers. The rule titled "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services" was published on December 2, 2016. In a nutshell, S.J.Res. 34 strips the protections that previously forced your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to get your permission before it could track and collect your web browsing history, app usage, and other internet activities, then sell that data to the highest bidders.

According to Altimeter Group analyst Brian Solis, the argument in favor of repealing the FCC’s privacy regulations applying to ISPs is flawed and misleading. Lobbyists maintained that giving ISPs the ability to gather and monetize user data would allow them to fairly compete with organizations such as Google and Facebook, which, they say, would introduce consistency across the internet to protect customer privacy and security.

"But there is no one standard that applies to the internet," explains Solis, "And, if anything, Trump’s order further dilutes any constancy. Giving ISPs the ability to sell website history data to advertisers goes against the common understanding of privacy. ISPs charge consumers for access to the internet and that’s the agreement in which there is a mutual understanding. If users are paying for internet access and presume data privacy, then there must be a quid pro quo if their website history is to also be sold."

While there are certainly technical approaches to protecting one’s privacy while browsing the internet, Gartner research director and risk/security analyst, Matt Stamper, reasons that this effectively confuses the fundamental issue. As a society, he insists that we have to determine if privacy is a right—an expectation of how we live our digital lives.

"What the recent ruling has done is effectively change privacy from a right to a commodity that is brokered. Privacy principles emphasize choice and consent; that is, we choose to 'opt in' and share our information at our discretion. That is now absent," Stamper says.

Privacy protecting solutions

Solis warns that ISPs will lose big time if they compete against one another based on user privacy. "Comcast Corp, Verizon, and AT&T have already said they would not sell customers’ individual internet browsing information," Solis says. "That’s a start but, now more than ever, it’s up to consumers to manage their own privacy strategies."

The obvious solution is to find an external product that will block the ISPs and search engines (such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, etc.) from harvesting your data. Think of these invaders like viruses or malware that infect your system with garbage intended to harm or exploit you. In that case, you would install a virus protection program to block the intruders. And so, in this case, you would install a program that blocks the harvesters.

How harvester blocking works

The current technologies available for blocking harvesters from stealing your data are virtual private networks (VPNs), proxy services, and onion routers. Basically, these technologies are fairly similar. Customers use an application or they directly access a website on the internet, which then connects them—through a series of encrypted network relays, hubs, or virtual tunnels—to a bunch of external computers/servers that are scattered throughout the world for the purpose of hiding users' actual IP addresses. 

Some services bounce the connection across several servers at random, so the IP address is always different. Some have a limited range of IP addresses that change each time you log in, some just hide or mask the IP address completely, and some use a combination of technologies to ensure your anonymity while online.

The options defined

Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a secure connection through an encrypted virtual tunnel from your location to another (such as France or Italy, for example), and hides your IP address.

Proxy services are intermediary applications or gateways to a proxy website, which then routes the user's connection through an anonymous proxy server, effectively masking the IP address (which can only be masked for one application at a time).

The Onion Router (TOR) is a service that connects users anonymously to the internet through a network of randomly selected nodes or relays, which are encrypted at each node. Because the route is never entirely visible, the trail is always masked.

Many companies offer combination services; for example, Onion Routing and VPN, or VPN and Proxy.

Advantages / disadvantages

The advantages are privacy protection, the disadvantages are minimal. For example, your browser may slow down, so it takes longer to navigate; some VPNs are susceptible to government inspection; some proxies are difficult to configure and may not work with all applications; and frequent usage may tag you as a suspicious 'person of interest,' which could result in constant monitoring.

But these are minor issues compared to having your entire life splattered across the internet for all to see (and judge). For example, how many times have you researched something for your parents, a friend, or a neighbor, and then discover later that your mailbox (both online and outside your house) is stuffed with advertisements for some embarrassing product like Rogaine or Preparation H? It's time to fight back!

"We have effectively required consumers to invest in technologies to protect their online behavior. If the expectation is that privacy requires consumers to purchase, configure, and maintain their own VPNs and other such services, my concern is that privacy is fundamentally endangered. Do we really think that our parents will know how to deploy TOR or these other privacy solutions? If privacy is contingent upon my mom configuring TOR, we’re doomed,” concludes Stamper.

Source: This article was published By JD Sartain

Thursday, 25 January 2018 13:59

3 SEO tasks to start 2018 off with a bang

Wondering where to focus your efforts this year in order to gain an edge over your competitors? Columnist Jeremy Knauff has some ideas.

We’re just about three weeks into the new year, and the momentum you establish now can easily set the pace for the rest of your year.

I’d like to help you start 2018 off with a bang by earning three simple wins that will set the stage for further success and growth, not just for this year, but long into the future.

These wins are simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy — because while the concepts are not complex, a lot of work will be required to accomplish them.

That may seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually a blessing in disguise because it means that most of your competitors won’t even put in the effort, which will give you a significant advantage over them.

Improve page speed to improve ranking

Google just recently announced that beginning in July 2018, mobile page speed will be a ranking factor for its mobile search results. Page speed also has a significant impact on user experience, and several aspects of user experience are direct ranking factors, too.

Studies show that the faster a web page loads, the longer visitors will remain, and in most cases, more of them will convert to paying customers compared to visitors on slower websites.

Most people have a tremendous opportunity for improvement in this area because they don’t realize how poorly their website is performing. I was recently talking with a potential client about SEO for his website, and when the topic of page speed came up, he proudly insisted that his website “loads super fast — usually in under one or two seconds!”

If that were true, it would have been phenomenal; however, it was actually closer to thirty seconds, according to the tests I performed using several different tools.

It’s important to point out that when I talk about page speed, I’m not specifically talking about Google’s PageSpeed Insights. I’m talking about how long it takes a web page to load in general.

Some ways you can improve page speed include:

  • investing in high-performance web hosting.
  • reducing http calls by merging CSS and JavaScript files, eliminating WordPress plugins and using sprites.
  • properly scaling and compressing images.
  • implementing server caching, browser caching and Gzip compression.
  • minifying CSS and JavaScript files.

Leverage a personal brand for link building

If you’ve managed a website for any length of time, you’ve most likely been on the receiving end of a lot of link requests, and I think it’s a safe bet that most of them were probably terrible. Now I’m going to say something that might hurt your feelings: If you’ve sent a link request, it was probably terrible, too.

Cold link outreach is challenging, and you generally don’t earn very many links in relation to the number of emails you send out. This is because you’re asking for something from a stranger before you’ve built any rapport, which is an almost certain recipe for disaster. Effective link building depends on relationships, not brute force and volWhile certainly not the worst link outreach email I’ve ever seen, this isn’t a particularly effective approach.

Rather than cold link outreach, a more effective strategy is to develop a personal brand that others want to connect with. This is easier said than done because it will require a tremendous amount of work, performed consistently over a relatively long period of time.

However, once you’ve developed a personal brand, it will be much easier to leverage the kind of relationships you’ll then develop, to efficiently build links. In fact, if your personal brand becomes powerful enough, often, people will link to your content without you even asking.

A few ways you can develop a personal brand include:

  • creating consistently branded profiles on key social networks.
  • regularly sharing valuable content from others in your industry, along with your insight on it.
  • engaging with your audience, both those below and above your stature within your industry.
  • regularly publishing amazing content, both on your own website and in industry publications and top-tier business publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company.

Incorporate video into your SEO efforts

The video is a driving force in digital marketing today, and we’re quickly approaching a point where it’s just as essential as having a website and social media presence. It can play a significant role in your SEO efforts in two distinct ways.

The first is that video often helps to keep interested visitors on your website longer. Google sees this as a sign of a positive user experience, which has a beneficial impact on your organic ranking. A side benefit here is that you’re also giving visitors more of a chance to truly connect with your brand.

The second is that by publishing your videos on YouTube, you have the potential to put your brand in front of a larger audience through YouTube’s search results. (YouTube is often referred to as the “second-largest search engine in the world” due to its position as the second-most-visited website globally after Google, according to Alexa rankings.)

On top of that, you’re leveraging the authority of YouTube’s domain, so you also have the opportunity to get your videos ranked in Google’s search results.

I know a lot of you right now are saying, “Whoa, Jeremy! There’s no way in hell I’m getting on video!”

Look, I understand that being on video can feel uncomfortable, awkward, and even terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be any of those things. Once you start doing video regularly, you’ll get used to it, and besides — it’s become a necessity, so unless you want to lose ground to competitors, you have to step outside of your comfort zone.

Video expert Holly Gillen of Holly G Studios says, “Video is one of the most powerful tools you have in business today! The race has begun, and if you’re not running you are now getting left behind. At the end of the day, you can have video or you can have excuses, but you can’t have both.”

Some ways you can incorporate video into your SEO include:

  • creating videos that answer questions your prospects have about your products, services, and industry, as well as videos that demonstrate who you are and why you do what you do.
  • optimizing your videos on YouTube so they’ll show up in YouTube’s search, in conjunction with that, building relevant, high-quality links to them so that they show up in Google’s search results.
  • embedding your videos from YouTube on your own website to keep visitors engaged and on your website longer.

Source: This article was published By Jeremy Knauff

There was a time when the majority used Firefox as their favorite internet browser. Times changed, and Google Chrome took the lead. Now Firefox has returned with their updated browser, Firefox Quantum. Not only this, but an update to the browser is coming as well, set to introduce new features.

The new Firefox, termed Firefox 59, shall help you block that pesky notification at the top bar asking for permission to send you further notifications in the future. Not everyone likes notifications to appear unwantedly. Not only this, if a website wants to know your location, the new Firefox can stop that notification too.

The only disappointment is that you shall have to wait for Firefox to get updated to its new version unless you do some digging on your own. Yes, it’s perfectly possible for you to implement these new features which also includes, shutting off the notification by a website asking for Webcam access right now with your own build, with a little bit of tweaking though.

All you need to do is delve into Firefox’s “about:config” and you will find a plethora of settings you can change to your will.

Tired of the Notification Requests? Problem Solved!

Sites ask you to allow or block them from sending you notification just like your smartphone does. For some, it is a really handy feature who want to stay updated every time, but not everyone likes their screen to show a pop up every now and then about some “Jack commented on Drake’s post” blah blah. If you are tired of keeping on blocking every such website from sending you a notification, then there is a simple way to do this to block such notifications to come in the first place forever.

Just open up your Firefox search bar, and type “about:config” and press Enter. A new page shall come up which shall give you a warning about tweaking with Firefox’s advanced settings. Just click on the I accept the risk button. Now there would be a search bar on the new screen that comes. If there isn’t just press CTRL+F to bring up the search bar. Type in “dom.push.enabled”. Double click on it. This shall modify it’s value to false. The default setting is true, and after turning it to false by doing such, you won’t get Notification Requests from now on.

In case you want to revert the setting just do exactly same as above toggling it to True.

Location Requests are pesky too, right?

Location Requests are more commonly asked by sites such as weather, transport, or even search engines to bring up tailored content. But then some might consider it as an invasion of their privacy as well. The best alternative is to just block location requests forever so that you don’t accidentally allow them. To do this just go to “about:config” again and search for “geo.enabled”.

Again double clicking on it would set it’s Boolean value to false. To revert the changes, just repeat the steps toggling it to true.

All those chat sites requiring camera and microphone requests

If you frequently visit online chat sites or use social messaging platforms, then you would be bothered by such requests as well. To avoid these requests, just head to “about:config” again and search for “media.navigator.enabled”. Now double click on it to toggle it to off. Do the same with “media.peerconnection.enabled” In case you want to change these settings to default, just repeat the steps toggling them to True.

Source: This article was published By MICHAEL LOWRY

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