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Old School and Hi-Tech Ways to Keep Track of Passwords
Posted by S2C Staff on 27 July 2018 03:19 PM

What's New in Technology July 2018

Old School and Hi-Tech Ways to Keep Track of Passwords

Old School Password and Hi-Tech Password, Password Saver, Password Generator In 2017, nearly one-third of internet users reported being victim to online hacking or similar suspicious activity on their accounts. But as anyone who regularly uses a computer – especially for financial transactions – knows, keeping track of passwords can be a time-consuming task. Even so, it is necessary to ensure your personal and financial information is kept private and secure.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest inconveniences that has emerged is trying to keep track of different passwords for different websites. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that many websites require you to change your password every three to six months. Trying to keep up with which password is current at which website is mindboggling and aggravating.

Here’s one easy trick. If you ever want to find your passwords while online, look in the Settings for your browser. For example, with Chrome you log in, go to Settings, Advanced Settings, Passwords, Manage Passwords and click on the “eye” icon to see the username and password for each website. Similarly, with Safari you can log in and click on Preferences, Passwords, and the asteriks to the right of the username to show the password for each website. Most browsers have similar procedures.

However, what is convenient about the ease of finding your passwords is also reason for alarm. If you leave your computer unattended while logged into your browser, anyone can find them.

For this reason, it’s important to keep your computer password-protected and always within reach. Bear in mind, too, that there are other ways to keep track of passwords. For example, if you’re old school you might write them down in a notebook, crossing them out as you periodically update them. Some folks keep them updated in a spreadsheet software program. However, these tactics are susceptible to theft if, say, your home is burglarized and the thief takes both your computer and your password notebook. It can also be cumbersome if you are away from home and want to log in to websites from your smartphone.

Today’s smartphones typically provide a way to store password information in their settings or options menu. For example, on the iPhone go to Settings, Accounts & Passwords, App & Website Passwords, (input security protocol for access), then click on the individual websites and apps for each user name and password.

There also are apps designed to help you keep track of passwords. The following are highly recommended for their ease of use and security measures.

  • LastPass – Import saved login credentials from Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. If you opt for the Premium suite for $2 a month, you also get the ability to sync information between your desktop and mobile devices, enhanced authentication options and tech support.

  • Dashlane – This app is known for it simple, intuitive interface accessible with two-factor authentication. The app lets you change passwords across multiple sites with just a few clicks, and also keeps track of receipts of transactions so you can go back and review them.

  • Roboform – This old-school password manager that can generate strong passwords, store and encrypt them, and sync them across multiple devices. It’s an older app that’s recently been updated with a more intuitive interface and features an autofill function.

There are scads of apps designed to track passwords, so you can search for reviews and rankings to see which one offers features best suited to your needs. One of the perks of apps is that many are free to download and try out. If you don’t like it, delete and install another. When you find one you like, you might want to check out any premium features that are available for a fee.

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Amazon's Alexa as a Virtual Office Assistant
Posted by S2C Staff on 06 June 2018 09:22 AM

What's New in Technology

June 2018

Amazon's Alexa as a Virtual Office Assistant

Amazon's Alexa as a Virtual Office AssistantStudies have shown that as much as 40 percent of time spent at work is generally unproductive, busy work. Things like checking emails, ordering supplies, fixing the copy machine or trying to figure out how to work a conference call line – during the conference call. These tasks can be aggravating and, when experienced by everyone in the firm, can have an impact on the bottom line.

To help companies manage small, day-to-day tasks, Amazon has launched Alexa for Business. Amazon Echo is a speaker; Echo Dot is a smaller speaker. Alexa is the name of the virtual assistant who you can converse with through the Echo speaker. Alexa boasts more than 25,000 skills – which are basically apps that you enable in order to access a particular service. For example, you can get an up-to-the-minute news brief from Reuters, request the stock price of a specific security, order a driver from Uber or Lyft, translate a word or sentence from another language, order supplies, compile a to-do list or initiate phone calls – all by simply asking Alexa.

Alexa for Business isn’t just for individual use. A company can set up Alexa devices in common areas throughout the workplace for all employees to use.

Around the Office

Alexa for Business enables a firm to manage all of the Alexa devices from a centralized console connected to your Alexa for Business account. This is a time-saving feature so that the devices do not need to be managed individually.

This configuration enables all employees to utilize Alexa for various tasks, such as getting directions, finding an open meeting room, ordering supplies, reporting building problems or notifying IT of an equipment issue. Alexa also can be linked to internal computer networks to provide company-specific information, such as inventory levels or sales figures.

At Your Desk

For folks who work in an individual office, Alexa at your desk can help you manage your calendar, maintain a to-do list and set up reminders so that you don’t miss a meeting or an appointment. By simply speaking in a normal voice, you can ask Alexa to make phone calls for you and dial into conference calls. You can set up skills for your specific device or incorporate, for example, the corporate calendar so that every device has access.

Employees can even use Alexa for Business skills with their home devices, which allows them to work from home. They also can access skills from their home device while at work.

In the Conference Room

Alexa for Business includes skills that make it easy to configure Alexa to control your conference room calls, audio and visual equipment, and any meeting applications. This allows anyone to get the meeting started by speaking to Alexa. For small conference rooms, an Alexa-enabled device can actually function as an audio conferencing vehicle; in larger conference rooms, Alexa can run the equipment so that participants can focus on the meeting – not the phone or presentation glitches.

In today’s competitive business environment, the ability to maximize every staff member’s productivity can be a key driver for success. Start by having a frank discussion with employees about what tasks drain their time and resources throughout today, then consider adopting Alexa for Business to help address those issues and give your entire firm an on-demand virtual assistant.

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ICFiles Express Upgrade
Posted by S2C Staff on 17 May 2018 10:21 PM
Dear ICFiles Clients

If you are having problems with ICFiles Express. Please uninstall your current version and install this Express v41

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Business Ethics for Customer Data
Posted by S2C Staff on 08 May 2018 02:20 PM

What's New in Technology May 2018

Business Ethics for Customer Data

Business Ethics for Customer DataMany computer users are reluctant to engage in online shopping, banking or investment transactions for fear that their account information will be stolen. According to the Identity Theft Resources Center, between January 2005 and April 2018, there were 8,870 breaches and 1,078,674,491 records exposed to bad actors. A breach is defined as an incident in which an individual name plus a Social Security number, driver’s license number, medical record or financial record (e.g., credit card, debit card) is at risk of exposure, either in electronic or paper format.

Meanwhile, recent news has shed light on the fact that the risk of having personal data related to social media websites is perhaps even more widespread. In April, Facebook announced that the data of 87 million users of the website was unlawfully used by political consulting and data brokerage firm Cambridge Analytica. Of those 87 million people, more than 70 million are in the United States.

The Facebook data was harvested via an app called This Is Your Digital Life. The app paid participants to take a personality test and consent to have their data collected. However, the app did not disclose that it also had access to and collected information about the participants’ Facebook friends.

As is often the case, the world of high technology has outpaced the ability of government agencies to monitor and regulate new innovations. We must often wait until civil liberties are impinged and damage is done before the negative impact of new technology becomes known. Unfortunately, there are presently no online privacy laws in the United States, so there is little to stop companies from using consumer information in whatever way they please.

Many retail companies use marketing, promotions and other business tools to effectively collect large amounts of data in order to reach customers more effectively. However, some also sell that data as a revenue channel. Then there are other companies (data brokers) that use data-gathering tactics for the sole purpose of collecting personal information and then selling it to other companies for their marketing use. All of these practices bring up a myriad of ethical questions regarding privacy and data ownership.

While some states limit the ability to tap information, nearly everyone has publicly accessible data via real property and tax assessor records, court filings, recorded liens and mortgages, driver’s license records, motor vehicle records, voter registrations, telephone directories, real estate listings, birth, marriage, divorce and death records, professional license filings, recreational (hunting and fishing) licenses, and Census demographic information.

Social media sites then supplement this data with consumers’ names, age, gender, location, schools attended, companies worked for and any other personal information, photos and videos they willingly share. (If this causes concern, learn how to delete your Facebook account here).

Some social media websites are designed to provide a platform where people can share stories about their families and/or health. The underlying purpose of this business model is to compile and sell information freely offered by participants. For example:


These are just two of 17 websites owned and operated by data brokers.

It’s important to be aware of the common tactics used to accumulate personal information either without your consent or without realizing you’ve given it through participation. Any time that you enter your name, email and other contact information in exchange for a promo discount, news feed or other “free” offer, be aware that your data is being collected specifically for a consumer database that might be sold and used by companies you do not wish to hear from.

Also recognize that companies collect your web browsing history. In other words, they can compile data based on what websites you visit, news articles you read and products you buy or even just browse. They can tell where you bank or invest by how often you visit those websites and how much time you spend there.

You might hear that one way to avoid having your browsing history tracked is to open an “incognito window” (or the like) offered by some browsers. However, all this does is eliminate cookies and tracking data from being stored on your personal computer. Where you visit and what information you provide to those websites are still visible to the companies tracking participating users.

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Deep Learning for Deeper Understanding
Posted by S2C Staff on 06 April 2018 11:12 AM

What's New in Technology

April 2018

Deep Learning for Deeper Understanding

Deep Learning for Deeper UnderstandingWe all learn in different ways. Some people are book smart, meaning they glean knowledge from reading books. Others learn better through classroom or one-on-one instruction. Still others learn by doing – maybe jumping into an assembly project without reading the instructions.

And then there are those that are more visual – they can better comprehend information when they see examples of it through pictures, videos and other types of images. This is the genesis of what is called deep learning. Deep learning is a subcategory in the study of artificial intelligence (AI), which is simply the practice of machines – typically computers – learning to mimic the thought processes of humans.

Deep learning is focused on learning through visuals, and it has a near-infinite capacity for both learning and applications. In fact, it is based on downloading vast stores of imaged data. The machine can then scan through this colossal amount of information and identify solutions. In this way, it actually mimics the human brain’s ability to identify collected knowledge and memories and evaluate what is relevant and useful for the current query. The difference is that the human brain has only so much capacity to upload and process information; a lone computer has near infinite capacity.

This concept of deep learning is best conveyed with examples, and there are plenty of potential applications. Let’s start with healthcare. A patient presents with multiple symptoms, which could point to any number of medical conditions. His physician could rely on a variety of screens to make a diagnosis, including lab tests, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, ultrasound, physical exam, his formal education, his personal experience with previous patients, and consultation with any number of other physicians, radiologists and specialists. The sum total of this knowledge base then comes up with a diagnosis, but it might not be accurate. As we’ve observed on television shows such as House, it often becomes a process of trial and error to make an accurate diagnosis.

Deep learning, though, can exponentially improve both the speed and accuracy of this process. Imagine that every physician across the globe uploads his patient files, images, observations, etc. into a centralized database. When a doctor needs to make a diagnosis, he can enter specific personal information and text results about his patient. The machine then scans its vast universe of data to identify the most relevant cases, information and images that match this individual patient’s symptoms. In short, because a machine with deep learning capabilities can store, assess and identify a massive number of variables, it might be able to diagnose patient conditions quickly and more accurately – saving crucial treatment time, money and the discomfort of ineffective trial and error treatments.

Deep learning basically follows the human process of assimilating information to learn by example, only it has the capacity to sort through so many more real-world examples than any one human brain can compile, let alone assess.

The following instances are just the tip of the iceberg of the many ways that deep learning can be applied to help various professions become vastly more efficient.

  • Driverless Cars - automatically detect objects such as stop signs, traffic lights, and even pedestrians to help make driving safer and decrease accidents.
  • New smart technology machines such as Alexa and Siri are used by companies to help customers access information or decide what to purchase or watch on television.
  • Farmers are able to take photos of ailing crops via smartphone and scan the visuals to a deep learning machine that can pinpoint the disease.
  • In the construction industry, project managers can track the most egregious potential malfunctions based on plan specifications, phase timing and severity to help keep projects on time, on budget and prevent safety hazards.
  • In the retail industry, companies can upload scores of data regarding customer buying habits, enabling frontline retail clerks to make immediate recommendations based on what customers who bought the same or similar items purchased in the past.
  • In the aerospace and defense industry, deep learning can identify objects in satellite images to help identify safe or unsafe zones for troops.

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Blockchain Technology - Beyond Bitcoin
Posted by S2C Staff on 01 March 2018 11:33 AM

What's New in Technology March 2018

Blockchain Technology - Beyond Bitcoin

Blockchain TechnologyTo many people, Bitcoin and blockchain technology are the same thing. Bitcoin might be the best-known example of a successful application of blockchain technology, but as soon as business leaders understood the power and advantages of the Bitcoin model, various industries, institutions and humanitarian organizations leapt on the technology as a solution to a variety of issues and challenges.

Most of us have some idea of how Bitcoin works. The concept was unveiled via a whitepaper in 2008 by a Japanese businessman whose real identity still is not known. “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System” showed how a crypto-currency system could provide its users with a decentralized, time-stamped bookkeeping platform, or ledger, that was incorruptible, transparent and public, yet impervious to corruption or interference. It has also been described as an encrypted database of agreements – which means when the parties involved have made a deal, neither can go back and revise the terms. Smart Contracts is a blockchain-based contract system that requires all parties to fulfill their contractual obligations before the terms of the contract can be completed.

Hailed as a major innovation, blockchain technology – in the form of Bitcoin – made its entrance into the financial sector in January, 2009. Some nine years later, the technology is being used in many different ways – from aiding humanitarian relief efforts to improving the efficiency of government departments through the authentication, confidentiality and improved management of medical and benefits records. To help consumers understand how it works, some commentators have said that blockchain is to Bitcoin what the internet is to email. In other words, it is an electronic system. Application designers build programs to tap into its international reach. Bitcoin – a crypto-currency – is just one type of application.

Here are some of the other ways that blockchain applications are being used to address global issues here and in some of the poorest areas of the world:

  • Voter fraud and cybersecurity are hot issues worldwide. In the past decade, voter legitimacy has surfaced as a serious issue in major U.S. elections. Blockchain technology offers governments a way to provide its citizens with secure (unhackable) electronic vote-counting systems. Blockchain technology can provide a permanent and public ledger for voter registration; handle voter identification; and track voting to ensure there is no tampering at a later date.
  • In 2017, the United Nations faced “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era” in Syria. One of the most successful efforts to assist those most affected involved a blockchain platform developed by the crypto-currency Ether, Datarella and Parity Technologies. This partnership bypassed the bureaucracy, inefficiency and corruption that frequently hobble international aid efforts by giving refugees direct access to financial donations to buy food and essential supplies.
  • Blockchain technology can work like a bank for impoverished people who do not have bank accounts. Unlike traditional financial institutions, blockchain crypto-currencies don’t levy hefty fees to transfer money across international borders. These traditional bank charges can inhibit business transactions in developing nations and impose financial burdens on individuals sending money to support their families overseas. BitPesa is a blockchain platform that can send and collect crypto-payments between Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. Africa is one of the costliest regions in terms of financial transfers. BitPesa users need only have access to a smartphone to use the crypto-currency platform. The BitPesa success story has made money transfer fast, affordable and reliable for migrants, immigrants and refugees – people hit hardest by poverty and displacement.

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