Malware and Virus Threats Raise the Stakes

The recent spate of high profile commercial website hacks have shown that hackers have raised the stakes for the average business and consumer user. When normally trusted sites are compromised, users are left unprotected.

For example, you receive an email from your favorite bank, home improvement or craft store site.  You click on their coupon or special and are forwarded to their trusted site. Your email virus scanner will check the site and your browser scanner will check the page content for malware.  The next time you access that email, most scanners will not re-check.

This is no longer sufficient!  Because trusted sites are being hacked to redirect your browser to a malware site, you need virus and malware scanners that check on every click.

With state-sponsored hackers and criminal gangs funding hacker teams,  computer security threats are at an all time high.

There are three things you can do to afford yourself basic protection:

1. Make sure your operating system is up to date.  Turn on automatic updates. That means Windows XP is a no-no. Upgrade or better yet do yourself a bigger favor and get a new computer with Windows 7 or higher.

2. Enable the automatic backup feature in your operating system.

3. Use a quality virus scanner that offers click time scanning.

I think that the new level of computer security threats are so great that I will be hosting an additional blog on the topic and will be announcing it on this blog soon!

ROI, TCO and PPI

Return on Investment (ROI) is often the line manager’s measuring stick when determining which technology investment to make.  Take the savings and revenue generation across a relevant time period and divide it by the investment required.  Then determine when the investment will pay for itself.

I’ve seen some multi-million dollar technology investments pay for themselves in just six to nine months. That’s entirely possible when the technology replaces a labor intensive process.

When figuring the costs, however, don’t just stop at what the salesman says the solution will cost. Take into account the entire set of costs over the useful lifetime of the product.  Don’t forget maintenance costs, support costs, training costs, etc.  This is known as the total cost of ownership or TCO.  Solutions that last longer will often compare more favorably to short term fixes that will require a replacement solution sooner.  Of course, estimating useful life has with some complications, so be sure to get several estimates from experts who know the space.

Finally, if you must make a determination among several unrelated projects, consider using the Six Sigma Lean approach known as the Pareto Priority Index (PPI).  The PPI takes the probability of success into account and time of completion.  It’s formula is (Savings x Probability of Success) / (Cost x Time of completion).  A higher PPI indicates a higher priority.

Choosing a Windows Laptop

Need to get a new Windows laptop?

Here are some  things to consider …

Size:
TINY:  netbook size is light to carry and will fit on most airline seat trays, but hard to see and work on for long hours.  Most displays are 11″ to 13″ and the keyboard layout is cramped.
BIG: 17″ displays are the easiest to read and best to show stuff to clients when you can’t use a projector – but they are heavy and bulky to lug around
MEDIUM: 15″ displays are a compromise on all fronts. Easier to read than a netbook, lighter than a 17″ device. Will fit on many airline seat trays, but not all.

Battery life: Do you work a lot from battery – during flights or in impromptu locations like coffee shops where power is hard to get to? The bigger the battery, the longer the working session.

Video: Do you watch or present a lot of videos? If so, the Intel I5 or higher chip is the way to go. It has powerful, on-board video processing. If you just use video occasionally, save the money and go with AMD or Intel I3. The I3 gives better battery life than AMD, but often costs a bit more.

KEYBOARD: Keyboard layout is the one thing that’s so personal. That’s why it’s worth trying a laptop out at a store before buying it. Placement of the Enter, Home, End. Page Up and Page Down, cursor arrows and the Delete keys are critical and often placed in different locations. Make sure they are where you expect and won’t drive you crazy if you use them a lot.

If you have a tablet, you probably won’t benefit from a netbook.  I do have an iPad and an Acer netbook and often carry them both on trips.   I ended up buying a 17″ HP, though when clients needed to see my screens. The netbook and iPad were just too small to present videos and powerpoints.  So if you have a tablet already get least a 15″ laptop. Get a 17″ laptop if you need visibility more than portability.

Brands I’ve had good success with are: Acer, Lenovo, Gateway and HP.*

Just some words of advice from the trenches.

- Rick

* I’m not employed by any of these firms, nor have I received any compensation for their endorsement.

Leveraging Social Media for Your Event

Thank you to the more than fifty very attentive attendees of my course “Leveraging Social Media to Extend the Reach and Impact of Your Event” at the  Exhibitor 2011 conference.  My key message:  Using a combination of blogging, Twitter and podcasting before, during and after the event is much more powerful than using any one of these alone.  You can cross-promote yourself this way. You extend your reach both in terms of readers and followers. You also can extend your reach geographically by encouraging Twitter back channel  activity during your event.

Speaking  of Twitter back channel. I described three modes of Twitter back channel use:  Single Channel Presenter Feedback, Single Channel Audience Feedback, and Multi-Channel Audience Feedback using Tweetgrid or Tweetdeck.  (Note that I did not include anything about “follower feedback” ;-) ).

Here is a list of inexpensive cameras that make creating YouTube Videos quite easy: Kodak ZX10 series,  Samsung HMX series and the really inexpensive Vivitar DVR series. The most powerful tip for improving video quality is to light the scene really well.  If you do you will find any of these capture video with acceptable results for YouTube.

I promised I would give a free virtual session on Getting Started with WordPress to any of the attendees.   I’m extending this offer to any of my blog readers too. Contact me if you would like to attend.  See rollyourownblog.com for my email link.  You’ll also find the Tweetrr code for inside the firewall backchannel operation on that site.  Also contact me if you attended the session and didn’t get the handout.

I hope to hold the session by May 15, 2011 so let me know soon.

Vint Cerf Says It’s All His Fault: No More Internet Addresses

Vint Cerf admits it’s his fault that the world is  running out of Internet addresses next month.    http://bit.ly/glUQVI
The media says we are not prepared. http://bit.ly/hVoEla

Royalty Free Music for Podcasts

My friend Stevie Puckett interviewed me about podcasting a few weeks back.  Though the interview is just for her subscribers at  Tech Savvy Career Coach , I’ll share one of the deliverables.   I did a bit of research and updated the list of royalty free music for podcasting. I can’t guarantee that all music found at these sites is all royalty free, but each site on the list does have at least some royalty free offerings. Remember royalty free does not mean free of charge, but free of royalty charges per play.   Yet I was able to find some completely free sources of music as well.  Also, many do not charge the even the flat fee up front fee for non-commercial uses only for commercial users. I’ve marked the sites charging fees with a dollar sign.

So check out the fine print at each site and add some life to your podcasts! And if you find some additional sources, please add them in your feedback to this blog.

Royalty Free Music Sources:

http://www.podsafeaudio.com/ free with attribution

http://www.musicalley.com/ free with attribution

http://www.pacdv.com/sounds/free-music.html free with attribution

http://free-loops.com/ free with attribution

http://www.musopen.com/music.php free with attribution

http://incompetech.com/ attribution, Optional $5 contribution

http://square-peach.com/mp3-rock.html $ but as low as $2.29 per song

http://www.magnatunes.com $ for commercial productions, free for non-commercial and students

http://musicbakery.com/ $

http://www.royaltyfreemusic.com $

http://www.royaltyfreemusiclibrary.com/ $

http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Content_Curators - This is the big list to look thru. Most sites on this list offer creative commons licensing,
but you need to verify for podcast use.

Enjoy!

The Performance Support Revolution

Performance Support Revolution

The Performance Support community is getting active again. Bob Mosher and Con Gottfredson, two official gurus of the movement, have recently launched their new performer support website on Ning: (http://performersupport.ning.com).

They make a strong case for including performance support in the eLearning solution set. I think it’s even stronger than the case they make. Here’s why:

There are two major areas where performance support is a win, Formal and Informal training.

1. Formal training: The biggest problem with formal training is usually budget – everything from the resources to create it to the time commitment to attend it. Of course, it still takes some resource to create PS solutions, but including this solution in your repertoire means you have an option can eliminate formal training and turn it into a “just in time with just enough” solution. Having a job aid, reference tool, special calculator, or other support tool may be all the learner needs instead of attending a four hour training course. It is an efficient and effective solution to the budget issue of formal training.

2. Informal training. With all the resource issues swirling around formal training, who has time to improve informal training? Yet it’s clear that 90% of what people learn about their job is from informal sources. So even a small percentage lift in informal training has a major effect on employee productivity.

Everyone knows of the post-its found on the side of the screen that have those invaluable bits of information that make the job go easier. Every job has some arcane information you only hear about by the watercooler or at a conference or when getting to talk with someone in the “other division” who has come up against the same problems. Getting folks to share that kind of information yields big benefits for all employees who face the same challenges. Sharing this information on a forum, a wiki or blog is an easy way to accelerate informal learning. This provides a way of disseminating those job aids, cheat sheets, and helpful sticky notes of information you eventually come up with when learning the ropes of a new job to the folks who really need them, authored by the folks who actually use them.

So in the end what’s more revolutionary in training than saying you don’t need to be out for three days to take this training course when all you really need is a two hour module and a great job aid?  Or maybe even forget all the training and just use this job aid.

Viva la revolution!