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Blog posts of '2014' 'August'

VoIP In A Nutshell

It’s very easy to get into a discussion over VoIP phone systems that can come off as extremely technical, confusing to most readers. So what I’m going to do is try and provide you with an overview of Voice over IP (VoIP) that’s aimed at those who wouldn’t consider themselves experts or technologically savvy and hopefully give you some clarity in exactly what VoIP is. So let’s get down to business…

How Does VoIP Work?

VoIP phone service (Voice over IP; also known as digital phone service, digital telephony, or broadband telephony) replaces your phone line with a high-speed Internet connection. It's that simple.

What Does VoIP Mean For Me And How Is It Beneficial?

VoIP means saving money on your monthly phone bill without sacrificing quality or convenience.

Use VoIP like any other phone: pick up, wait for the tone, and dial the number. That's it. There are no extra numbers to dial and no special routines to follow. You don't even need a new phone, just a VoIP adapter. If you have a headset and VoIP software, you don't even need that: you can just call from your computer. Computer-to-computer calls may be free, too. If you call the public network or an external phone, you will probably have to pay by the minute.

Will VoIP tie up my Internet connection?

Nope, not at all! Your broadband Internet and ISP (Internet Service Provider) can handle the slight increase in traffic. In some cases, your VoIP provider will include a broadband connection as part of the deal to guarantee good service. VoIP is the exact opposite of dial-up — you can talk on the phone and browse the internet, no problem.

For a more in-depth read, click HERE or give us a call at 817-284-0775. StormsEdge is here to help in any way we can.

 

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Beating Hackers At Their Own Game

Taking Your Security To The Next Level

Most computer users fail to think twice about the security of their computer. The typical line of belief where they say “well, that would never happen to me” can only go so far.

Truth is, hackers have thousands of tools at their disposal to take advantage of you including tools such as keystroke loggers. Keystroke loggers record every single keystroke you type on your computer...this includes your private email messages, bank account password, and your credit card number! If you are connected to the Internet through a high-speed connection, you’re at risk.

Do I have your attention yet?

While I hope reading that scared the pants off you, as long as you follow these simple precautions, the risk of anything like that happening decreases significantly

Never Share Passwords:

Pick strong passwords and keep them private. Never share your passwords or passphrases with friends, family, or computer support personnel.

Do Not Click Random Links:

Do not click any link that you can't verify. To avoid viruses spreading by email, think before you click. If you receive a message out of the blue, with nothing more than a link and/or general text, DO NOT CLICK IT! If you doubt its validity, ask for more information from the sender.

Beware Of Email Or Attachments From Unknown People:

Never open an attachment you weren't expecting, and if you’re unsure who the sender of an attachment is, delete the message without reading it. If anything, to open an attachment, first save it to your computer and then scan it with your antivirus software; check the program's help documentation for instructions.

Do Not Download Unfamiliar Software Off The Internet:

Many programs appear to have useful and legitimate functions, however, many times sites can contain spyware, which will damage your operating system installation, generate pop-up ads, and report your personal information back to the company that provides the software.

Log Out Of Or Lock Your Computer When Stepping Away, Even For A Moment:

Forgetting to log out poses a security risk with any computer that is accessible to other people (computers in public facilities, offices, etc.) because it leaves your account open to abuse. Someone could sit down at that computer and continue working from your account, damaging your files, retrieving personal information, or using your account to perform malicious actions. Just remember to log out of or lock your computer whenever you leave it.

Remove Unnecessary Programs Or Services From Your Computer:

Uninstall any software and services you do not need.

Treat Sensitive Data Very Carefully:

For example, when creating files, avoid keying the files to Social Security numbers, and don't gather any more information on people than is absolutely necessary.

Remove Data Securely:

Remove files or data you no longer need to prevent unauthorized access to them. Merely deleting sensitive material is not sufficient, as it does not actually remove the data from your system.

 

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology
 

The Hidden Obvious

SEO. To some, it’s what makes them want to get up from their desk, walk outside and go jump in front of a bus, but for me, it’s one of my passions.

For those who have no idea what SEO is, in simple terms, SEO is a bunch of thoughtful website practices intended to raise your websites visibility and discoverability.

With that being said, let's unpack what I believe to be three of the most important ideas and techniques behind SEO:

Top 3 Website Practices

1. User-Friendly and Error-Free

At least as much as possible. Google and other search engines crawl your site on a regular basis, so the fewer errors found, the better. But you're not building your pages for the sake of Google's crawlers; you want them to be easy to navigate and useful for the users, without the frustration of having to search all around your website for content.

2. Keyword-Awareness

I say "aware" mostly because, while keywords are important, you have to be careful not to overload a page or site with keywords. Doing so is not only frustrates users but it will have a negative impact in search engines such as Google or Bing.

3. Having A Structured Format

I’ve seen numerous people argue how they think SEO is all about "tricks “like keyword cramming or messing around with “special” code.

But true SEO work goes deep. You could even argue that it's a matter of structuring your information in a way that ensures the foundation of your site makes sense to crawlers. Pages on your site should be linked in an organized, hierarchical way, helping user to find related and relevant information as easy as possible. The result should be a clear, organized sitemap, which is an essential to both the search engines and to your users.

Implementing these practices and periodically checking to make sure everything is running smoothly, can make a serious impact on search impressions, traffic, and rankings. Hungry for MORE?

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Protecting Your Passwords

Simple, Yet Effective Ways To Protect Your Passwords

1. Don’t share them with anyone

Yeah, so this one is obvious, but because it hap­pens all the time it needs repeating: don’t share your pass­words! All of the per­sonal secu­rity tips in the world won’t help you if someone else has one of your pass­words and is able to act like they’re you online.

2. Use strong passwords

A pass­word that is easily guess­able is not much better than nothing at all. Attackers give con­sid­er­able effort in order to try and dis­cover new ways to make pass­word guessing more effi­cient, and so it pays off to select strong pass­words that are resis­tant to these efforts.

3. Don’t use the same pass­word everywhere

It’s tempting to come up with a strong pass­word, and then use the same one in mul­tiple places, like for log­ging into Twitter or your email. But if your pass­word is broken or acci­den­tally exposed by one of these ser­vices, attackers can often go and try to use the pass­word at a number of other ser­vices with your public login infor­ma­tion, most often an email address.

4. Con­sider using a pass­word manager

It’s not easy to remember a large number of strong pass­words. The last time I counted, I had more than 50 accounts with dif­ferent ser­vices, and despite the value of the pre­vious tips, it’s dif­fi­cult to have that many different password if you’re in a sim­ilar sit­u­a­tion, you might con­sider using a pass­word man­ager, such as LassPass or KeePass.

5. Con­sider using two-factor authentication

A great way to pro­tect your infor­ma­tion is to take advan­tage of the so-called two-factor authen­ti­ca­tions when pos­sible. Google, Twitter, and Face­book all pro­vide these capa­bil­i­ties, where the idea is to require two pieces of infor­ma­tion as proof of iden­tity: your pass­word, plus sometimes one of those annoying “text verification” schemes for instance.

Pass­word safety is easily overlooked but is crucial in pro­tecting your per­sonal infor­ma­tion. Still want more helpful tips? Click HERE!

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Keywords That Count

How To Choose The Best Keywords

Choosing the right keywords for your website can be the difference of showing up in search results once a day or 100 times every hour. Are the keywords you chose making a difference?

First the basics: What exactly is a keyword? A keyword is a word or search term that someone types into Google, Bing or any other search engine when they’re looking for information online. This is to help direct users to information relevant to their search and ultimately to your site. Any keywords you use within your website should obviously be related to the content, products or other things that are found on your site.

What Makes a Good Keyword?

Value: There are lots of different factors that’ll tell you how valuable a keyword is. All of this data can be found from sources like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool or Keyword Toolmaster. 

Impressions: An impression is when a keyword shows up in the search engine results page. One-word keywords will have much higher impressions, but are usually not the best keywords to go with.

Competition/ Difficulty: This is a statistic that tells you how many other people/companies/sites are competing against you for a particular keyword. Sometimes this is a stat that can be a little misleading. If you type in the term: “Facebook” on the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, you’ll get this result: Competition: Low. Monthly Searches: 3.7 billion. This means, most websites or companies are not using “Facebook” as a keyword, however, 3.7 billion people are searching for it on a monthly basis. This is a prime example of where the competition stat is a misleading.

Wondering how to research keywords? Google also has a resource for that in their Google AdWords Tool, but there are plenty of others that have lots of value as well. Mix and match the tools until you find the best ones that work for you.


Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

My Favorite Places On The Internet

The Internet’s come a long way since I first began using a computer. Actually, now that I think about it, I think the ‘Net was still reserved for academia way back then. My recollection of surfing the ‘Net, as the saying goes, and interacting with others only goes back to somewhere around 2000. That’s not to say it wasn’t an active place before that, I know it was. I just wasn’t participating.

My journey of a million + clicks began with fan fiction.

I love to read. I’m a fast and voracious reader. Within a year of moving to North Texas, I’d gone through almost everything in our local library that tickled my fancy and we couldn’t really afford to keep me in books. One day, I was lamenting my lack of reading material and my husband suggested I hunt up some fan fiction on the Internet.

For those of you who may not know what fan fiction is, it’s fiction written by a person who is a fan of a particular TV show, movie, book, video game, or whatever (and I do mean whatever). There’s massive amounts of it on the World Wide Web. If you’re curious just pull up your favorite search engine and type in fan fiction and the fandom of your choice—the TV show “Castle” for example. See what pops up.

But back to my tale…where was I? Oh, yeah. Reading material on the Internet. The first thing I looked up was Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction. Our family had been watching the show, so it was an obvious place to start. I was in heaven!

One thing led to another and I was reading all kinds of stuff.

So, as you can probably guess, my favorite places on the web have to do with fan fiction… I started off at FanFiction.net, but now read almost exclusively via LiveJournal and Archive of Our Own (AO3).

So tell me…have you heard of fan fiction? If so, do you read it? If you do, what’s your favorite fandom?

Jen FitzGerald
Office Manager
StormsEdge Technology

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