Archive for Web Site Reviews

Word for Chromebook

Need help installing Word on your Chromebook? Call Skylark NetWorks at (516) 308-2759 or read on.

One of the most frequent calls I’ve received lately as a computer repair technician revolves around the new Chromebooks using the ChromeOS Operating System. The typical call sounds like this:

Caller: How do I install Microsoft Word on my Chromebook? I can’t get Word to work on my Chromebook.

Skylark NetWorks: Do you have a Windows or a Mac version of the Microsoft Word software that you are trying to install on your Chromebook?

Caller: Yes! I have the _________ version. (Fill in the blank)

Skylark NetWorks: You can’t install that on your Chromebook because your Chromebook isn’t a Mac or a Windows computer, but —

Caller: So what do I do? I need a word processor, and I prefer to use Word.

Skylark NetWorks: I would recommend you go to the Microsoft Office Apps website at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps. Then you can use and share your Word documents anywhere.

Get Started with Microsoft Office Web Apps

Since Chromebook users cannot install Microsoft Word on Chromebook because Chromebook uses ChromeOS, a Linux-based operating system which doesn’t support Microsoft Windows-based or Mac-based software.

This doesn’t mean that you’re locked out forever from working on Word documents. There are a number of ways Chromebook users work on Word documents, and their Excel and PowerPoint files, too. You already know these are important file types, and having access to them is a must.

Download Microsoft Office Web App

This Chrome app was generated by Microsoft to allow Chromebook users the chance to go online and use Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The web app also gives you access to Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Service called SkyDrive.

Alternate: Google Docs

Have you heard of Google Docs? It’s a free service from Google. Google Docs can open and edit most of the popular file types of Microsoft Office including Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Since your Chromebook was also developed by Google it is the perfect tool for working with Google Docs.

FYI: Anyone Can Use Microsoft Office Web Apps

Microsoft’s Office Web Apps aren’t just for Chromebook users. Your can use it on just about any desktop, laptop, netbook, or tablet computer.

World Wide Web’s Twentieth Anniversary

On April 30, 1993, the World Wide Web was born. Today we just call it “the Web”; while other mistakenly call it “the Internet”. The Internet is just the basic tools or platform for delivering the web’s content. (An earlier post stated August 1991 as the birthday, but that version wasn’t publicly accessible. On April 1993, the page was made public.)

And on April 20, 1993, the very first web page was published. Here’s a screenshot:

CERN's first webpage. April 30, 1993.

To mark the anniversary, CERN has republished that page. Though launched in 1993, it was “built” in 1992. Dan Noyes, CERN’s communications group web manager, says this version is the oldest version they can find, but they are looking for an older version.

Back in 1993, the scientists at CERN took out an advertisement in the German Research Network to make the announcement. The researchers invited people to visit the website and test out features like viewing documents, which can be accessed by following links.

“This will give you the very basic line-mode interface. Don’t be disappointed,” the advertisement read.

Mr. Noyes says the line “don’t be disappointed” is crucial because the team knew they had a revolutionary product that looked “rather ordinary.”

By relaunching the first webpage, CERN’s staff hopes to “revive the original spirit in creating the Web”; that is “to give universal access to enthusiasts, in hopes of creating a fair and equal space in the world.”

Few today know, or remember that the first web browsers allowed you to make edits to a page — directly to websites. This is similar to how Wikipedia and some other sites work today.

Visit the first website at: www.info.cern.ch.

You may also be interested reading an earlier post.

Facebook May Give Access to children Under the Age of 13

It has been the policy of Facebook that all members be at least 14 years old. Yet many parents are setting up accounts for the underage kids, and lying about their children’s age just to get them online.

Facebook says it shuts down every underage account it finds and has tried to beef up its age verification systems, it privately concedes that there are millions of underage kids on Facebook.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company currently bans anyone under age 13 from joining, but still an estimated 7.5 million preteens — many under age 10 — are already using the service with their parents’ approval.

The highly charged debate over privacy and safety in the Internet age picked up steam this week as word leaked that Facebook was considering allowing kids younger than 13 to use the service with parental supervision. Either by connecting kids’ accounts to their parents’ accounts thereby giving Mom and Dad control over what their children can do on the site, such as who they can “friend” and what apps they can use.

Lowering the age limit would help the company tap younger users, who advertisers are eager to reach. Kids are also avid users of games — a big moneymaker for Facebook. About 12% of Facebook’s $3.7 billion in 2011 revenue came from its share of Zynga games such as”FarmVille” played on Facebook

It could expose Facebook to the scrutiny of regulators and the ire of parents. Some fear that kids under age 13 are not ready for social networking, where older children have fallen prey to predators or bullies.

Yet a recent Microsoft Research study from last year found 36% of parents knew their children joined Facebook before they turned 13, and that many of them helped their kids sign up.

Facebook already has limited what minors can do on the site. For example, they can’t share content with “everyone,” a setting that allows anyone on the Internet to peruse someone’s posts and photos.

Facebook is having a tough time policing its site. Age limits are too easy to circumvent, and Facebook spokespeople say they shut down every underage account they find, but still there are millions of underage kids on Facebook. And that puts Facebook at odds with a federal law that requires it to get parental consent before collecting personal data on kids.

If Facebook opens up to kids under 13, it will have to put into place safeguards, such as giving parents a way to control what data is mined from their children when they click the “like” button or play a game, said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “There need to be strict limits on how much information can be collected and analyzed,” Chester said. “Because Facebook collects data from users and their networks, the privacy of a child’s friends must also be protected.”

The FTC is currently reviewing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which regulates what personal information websites can mine from kids. Facebook spent some of its $650,000 in first-quarter lobbying money on the law.

Parents aren’t the only ones worried that kids would be vulnerable. Lawmakers also expressed concern Monday.

“We acknowledge that more and more children under the age of 13 are using Facebook, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed,” Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday.

Things You Should Never Share on Facebook

Facebook has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions, but there are a handful of personal details that you should never share or post if you don’t want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind.

Furthermore, many an ill-advised Facebook post can get your insurance cancelled or cause you to pay dramatically more for it: home, auto, fire, flood, life or other forms of insurance included. Almost everybody knows that drunken party photos can cost you a job; and now experts say debt collectors are switching from phone books to trolling social networking sites to find deadbeats.

Facebook No NosYou can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site? Read on…

Your birth date and place. Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and the place you were born too, then you’ve just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life. A study by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — sometimes all — the numbers in your Social Security number.

Home BurglaryVacation plans. There’s no better way to say “Rob me, please” than posting your vacation countdown or your moment of departure or arrival at the airport. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like, but don’t invite criminals to your home by telling them “I’m not home!”

Home address. Great follow-up to the last item, eh? So many people do this though. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that social media users were at greater risk of physical and/or identity theft because of the information they shared. In fact, some 40% listed their home address; 65% didn’t even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings; and 60% said they weren’t confident that their “friends” were really the people they know, or even that they fully trusted them either way.

Katie Furlong 2009 FacebookConfessionals. You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational drug user, but Facebook is not the place to let it all out. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire and who to fire.

Need proof? Just last month alone there were two such cases. In the first case a prison guard at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio was fired after posting a threatening comment about the state governor; and in Winfield, West Virginia the mayor fired the local police chief after his son posted a disparaging comment about a teenager who had been struck by a train. Last year a NYC teacher was fired after posting a comment that she thought some of her school kids should drown. (A Manhattan judge recently ruled she should be given her job back).

A 2009 Proofpoint study showed that 8% of companies with over 1,000 employes had fired someone for “misuse” of social media.

Password clues. If you’ve got online accounts, you’ve probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom’s maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song.

Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? Are you playing games where you and your friends “quiz” each other on the personal details of your lives? You’re giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Maybe it’s time to review your social media profiles?

Google’s Malware Alert


Many news media outlets have been making it sound like Google was accidentally spreading malware. Even the Wall Street Journal said “One Million Google Users Hit with Malware”.

Actually, Google was just notifying people that it had detected malware on their computer. Google’s system wasn’t actually searching your system — which would be an invasion of privacy — but it was detecting a specific malware program that is known to redirect traffic to Google’s systems.

In other words, Google was detecting software, other than the users browser, which was communicating with Google’s servers.

I have yet to learn what the purpose of this malware was, but I have some thoughts on it. It may have been trying to burden Google’s servers with additional traffic. Or it may have been targeting Google’s ad network.

I suspect if they were targeting the ad network they might be trying to make fraudulent clicks on the pay-per-click Adsense and Adwords network. If you’ve seen “Ads from Google” on a web site, such as the ones you see on this blog, then you should know that Google pays the site owner every time someone clicks on an ad. This is usually just a few cents, but they can add up. The fraudulent clicks take money from the advertiser and Google.

Any software that can compromise Google’s Ad network would affect Google’s reliability and reputation. Since ads are Google’s big earner they can’t allow that to happen.

So while the Wall Street Journal reporters in the video above think Google could be come a first line of defense against malware, Google was just watching out for themselves and their advertisers.

Amber Alert, now on Facebook

Amber Alert

Amber Alert, the missing children notification service, has joined Facebook.

It’s nice to see that Facebook is becoming truly useful on the community level.

Yesterday, Facebook announced it is teaming up with local authorities nationwide to help find missing children. People can now find Amber Alerts on the popular social networking site. Now, with only a click of the mouse, or via an update on your phone, you can help find a missing child.

Amber Alert

Amber Alert

Facebook users in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands can now sign up to receive the alerts. You can pick which states will send you alerts.

The Statistics. It’s reported that more than 2,000 children are reported missing every day in the United States. That’s an alarming number. Currently, many states have only been using electronic billboards, highway signs, radio, and TV to issue Amber Alerts. The addition of Facebook and SMS text alerts to your cellphone will be a tremendous help in helping reunite missing children with their families and caregivers. Hopefully, this will help more children faster than before.

False Alerts? This will be most helpful after a rash of false Amber Alerts were spread via Facebook in 2010. Every month from April through September of 2010, at least one false Amber Alert was circulated on Facebook.

The Real Amber Alerts. To get Amber Alerts from Facebook visit http://www.facebook.com/AMBERalert. For more about Amber Alerts visit http://www.amberalert.com.

Avoid Trickery on Facebook and Twitter (pt. 1)

The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has created a malicious hacker wonderland. A fantastic place for them to exploit the users of those sites. Their goals? To infect computers with malware, trojans, and viruses. There are a variety of exploitative programs out there. Some obtain personal information, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through nefarious means, while others transform a computer into remote-controlled “zombie” machine.

Why do people fall prey to these schemes? Because they lack (1) anti-virus and (2) malware protection programs on their computers; amd they lack the skills necessary to spot and avoid the potential risks. Free service and the ease and seeming anonymity of point-and-click make increase the chances they will lower their guard.

Malicious Hackers Top Tricks

Hijacking Twitter’s Trending Topics. This technique has become popular in the last three months. Basically, hackers create new Twitter accounts and then post messages related to whatever the trending or “hot” topic of the day may be.  As a result, the post gets included in Twitter search results. The hackers message includes a link or web address that they hope unsuspecting users will click and explore. The link, unfortunately, leads the user to an infected website.

Hijacking Legitimate Accounts. This works on Facebook, Twitter, and any communications website such as Yahoo! mail, Hotmail, and Gmail, to name a few. Here the hacker breaks into legitimate accounts. Once in, they start sending out messages on that account. The messages, as above, include links to malicious and/or fraudulent websites. Since the tweets, posts, or emails come from a legitimate and trusted account the established base of friends and followers is more likely to respond. On Twitter, this makes it more likely that others will spread the seemingly legitimate message from a known and trusted source. This increases the range or “reach” of the threat.

ReputationDefender.comDangerous Email. Another method of encouraging social networking users to click malicious links is the timeworn technique of sending “spoofed” email. In this instance, the hackers create messages that appear to come from a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, and even MySpace. The messages asks that you to “update your account” or open an attachment.

Tomorrow: 8 Safety Tips for Social Networking

Avoid Trickery on Facebook and Twitter (pt. 2)

Last week I discussed some of the recent tricks being exploited by hackers on Facebook and Twitter. These tricks can be harmful to your:

  • personal identity
  • your personal finance
  • and your online reputation

These risks come from: 

  • malicious links in tweets and posts
  • account hi-jacking
  • and email spoofing

How To Stay Safe

To better avoid the risks and dangers of social media sites you should employ these best practices as much as possible. You may already be following many of these, but it is best to review them and keep them fresh. Iften we follow the safest road, and when no dangers seem apparent, we can get lulled into a false sense of security and let down our guard. Or in this case, our computer guards.

  1. Don’t assume a link sent or posted by a friend is “safe”: Your friend may have lowered their defenses, or not exercised caution with their online activity. As noted earlier, your friend’s account could have been infected, hacked, or hi-jacked. You may want to contact your friend first and check with them if the link is genuine. Many times I have found that they received the link from someone else, and just forwarded it assuming it was safe. They didn’t know that the friend be fore them hadn’t investigated the link either.
  2. Don’t assume a message from a friend is “safe”: Does the message sound like something your friend would actually say? Have they spoke on the subject before? Perhaps their accound has been hi-jacked. One of my own email accounts got hijacked this past summer, and the hacker sent messages from my account saying I was in need of money. One of my friends, believing I was in danger, sent $600 cash.  If you’re unsure, try to contact them through another channel. In my situation, many of my other friends sent me texts and made phone calls to me to check it out.
  3. Don’t assume Twitter links are safe just because Twitter scans for malware: In August 2010, Twitter partnered with Google to use Google’s Safe Browsing API. This technology checks URLs or web links against Google’s blacklisted sites. This prevents spammers from posting malicious URLs to Twitter, but it does NOT prevent them from using shortened address services such as bit.ly or tinyurl.com.  Hence….
  4. Don’t Assume Bit.ly and TinyURL Links are Safe: These legitmate address shortening service make it easy to convert long web addresses into short addresses. Bit.ly, in particular, is Twitter’s address or URL shortening service partner. Bit.ly, too, uses Google’s Safe Browsing API and two other blacklists to identify malicious links. BUT although the service doesn’t prevent users from posting these links, it will warn you when you click that the site being linked to is infected. BUT they’ve been known to miss a few according to various anti-virus services such as Kaspersky. As we’re learning, nothing online is ever completely safe, but then again, is anything ever?
  5. Use an up-to-date web browser: There are dozens or more browsers to choose from. There’s Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari, AOL’s online software, Opera, Google’s Chrome, and many more. They are periodically updated and “patched” by their respective companies. Hackers will find flaws in these programs that can be exploited. That means Internet Explorer users, the most frequently attacked, should be on IE8. Firefox is number two on the hitlist, but it alerts you when an update is available (if you have the most recent version that is). The same goes for Google’s Chrome browser.
  6. Keep Windows and Mac O/S up-to-date: As always, Windows users should make sure their systems are current with the latest patches from Microsoft. Automatic updates should be turned on. Mac issues updates periodically, too, though not as often as Microsoft.
  7. Keep Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash up-to-date: Since Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Firefox have been so diligent with updates, patches, and security; hackers have set their sights on these programs. A lot of malware exploits known vulnerabilities in Adobe’s software packages. One common attack from hackers directs victims to malware-infected sites that request you update your Flash or the Adobe Reader in order to view content on the site. DON”T DO IT using their links!  Instead, go directly to Adobe’s site (www.adobe.com) on your own and download the latest version. Why not do that right now? Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
  8. Don’t assume you’re safe because you use a Mac: Didn’t I hint at this on number 5 and 6? It’s true, Mac users are less “targeted” than Windows users, but they’re not immune. The truth is there are fewer Macs out there, so they present a smaller target, so hackers are less likely to attack them. But as they grow in popularity then get targeted more and more. Popular public opinion has it that Macs are invulnerable to viruses. This isn’t true. As a matter of fact, Apple has started to include some malware protection in their latest operating system, but it only protects users from two attack forms. There are currently several hundred attacks out there that specifically target Apple computers. The true number may be larger, but since so few Mac users use anti-maleware protection software, it’s hard to tell what the actual figure is.
  9. Beware of email messages from social networks: Email addresses can be “spoofed” by hackers, so you can’t assume a message from Facebook or Twitter is really from those sites. Don’t open attachments you’re not expecting, and be wary of clicking on links that request you “update your account.” And if you do click, and you arrive at a page that asks you to log in, DON’T.  You could be delivering your personal account info into the hasnds of a hacker. Instead, always access your favorite sites directly by “typing” the URL or web address into your browser or clicking in with your Bookmarks or Favorites.

As I mentioned before. many of these practices are the same ones you should already be following from earlier risks. Hackers tend to elaborate on pre-existing schemes and attack forms, and so you should elaborate on pre-exisiting safe practices.

So always keep your computer and browser up-to-date, and don’t open attachments. PLUS don’t assume your friend has been playing it safe either.  How often do we talk with friends about updating somputers and anti-virus programs? Not often, right?

But we should because malware hackers are getting trickier, and know they are seeking to use the trusted identities of our friends on Facebook and Twitter, to lull us into a false sense of safety. So use caution when friends send or provide links. Specially if it is out of the ordinary for them. After all, the risks aren’t on Facebook and Twitter, but in the sites they link to.

Watch the connections.

How to Get Featured in Fast Company Magazine

Fast Company's Influence Project

One of the best ways to promote yourself and your business, online and offline, is through associations. People and businesses frequently list the names of newspapers and magazines their company or personal name has been printed in because it builds credibility and reputation.

Fast Company's Influence ProjectRight now Fast Company Magazine, one of the most well respected business start-up and entrepreneurial magazines there is, is doing a feature on influential people. It’s called The Influence Project. They are going to post everyone’s photo in the magazine who registers. The size of you picture depends on how much influence you have.

But you will always be able to say you were in Fast Company magazine under the “Most Influential People”.
Not a bad thing to have on your website? Your Facebook page?

Click here to start influencing now! Fast Company will send you a link that you can spread any way you like to get people you know — or don’t know — to start voting for you.

Or just click here to vote for Skylarking as being influential in your opinion.

Good Advice from SM Business Solutions

SM Business Solutions LLC is an Inbound Marketing company based in Freeport, NY — not far from the Skylarking offices. It is owned and operated by Sandra McCarty. Among other tools and outlets, Sandra recommends blogging as a means to “grow your business”.

She puts her money where her mouth is, as she is an avid blogger and ghost blogger, and she blogs every week on her own site.

Not only does she blog on methods for growing your business using websites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, but she also provides some advice on protecting your online identity and your computer. One particular useful post from a computer security standpoint is:

Beware of Computer Hackers: Discusses how to avoid online pitfalls that could infect your computer with viruses, spyware, and adware. I also liked Sandra’s comment on this post where she discusses using secure passwords for your online services.