Technique Slant Element

Tech Sensibility: The Newsletter (July 2014)

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  • It is summer time and if you are taking a vacation it might seem like fun to "check in" at the airport or your hotel via social apps to let your friends know where you are currently staying. But it could also let the wrong people know that your home may be vacant. Burglars use social media to find easy targets. Always make sure your social app privacy settings are configured to share your personal information only with close friends and family.

  • If you call your service provider, whoever that may be, and they wish to confirm your identity by asking you to verify your phone number, address, and/or other personal information, take a mental inventory of how much information they are inquiring about. Some companies, after verifying you, use this method to retrieve even more personal information from you. For example, they might ask you, "Is this the only phone number?" While you may think that they are asking this because you initially might have given them a different number, they have actually already verified you at this point and are now asking you for additional contact information. After a question or two, do not hesitate to ask them if they have enough information to confirm your identity, and remind them that you have already given them all the information which you originally submitted.

  • If you are shopping for a new cell phone, do not let the amount of camera megapixels influence your final decision. The sensors on cell phones are so small that they cannot compare to professional cameras, no matter the number of pixels. Even cell phones with many camera pixels and a larger sensor do not necessarily take better photos. There are more tricks behind cell phone photography today that need to be taken into account when shopping for the perfect photo-taking cell phone. A large number of megapixels by itself is not enough to conclude that the photos produced will be all that better.

  • As you may know, companies are using digital tracking for online activities such as shopping, varying prices based on shopping patterns and location information. With a web browser plug-in installed like Ghostery, you can see the number of trackers detected and decide if you want to block them.

  • We are all overwhelmed with daily, mundane activities- wouldn't it be nice to have a personal assistant? Check out, a personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence that lets you use e-mail to schedule meetings. When you receive an e-mail requesting a meeting, just reply and cc your personal assistant, who will take care of the actual scheduling negotiation. After the meeting is scheduled, you and the other party will receive a meeting invite and you are all set.


Protecting your online business and customers

The security of e-commerce transactions is a critical part of the ongoing success and growth of E-commerce.

E-commerce companies should establish password policies and enforce them for shoppers as well as internal users, administrators and staff. Sound password policies protect the company against attacks that attempt to guess the user's password, and ensure that passwords are strong enough so that they cannot be easily guessed.

Instead of doing it in-house, it is best to use a third party gateway to securely process electronic transactions initiated from the e-commerce website. This strategy transfers the risk of fraud, cyber-crime or data loss from your business to an organization that professionally and securely handles such transactions. Additionally, this avoids the need to store sensitive customer information, such as credit cards, in your IT environment.

Instead of storing user passwords in plain or encrypted text on the system, use a one-way hashing algorithm to prevent password extraction. One-way functions take an arbitrary block of data (a user's password) and return a fix-size string that cannot be reversed.

To help protect the integrity of your data and prevent fraud, utilize routine external security audits to test the physical security of data centers and the logical security of e-commerce applications, servers, databases and network infrastructure components.


  • Sometimes we are faced with the decision whether or not to cancel a credit card which charges an annual fee. While no one enjoys having to pay a fee, canceling a card can inadvertently hurt your credit score. It is advisable not only to be aware of your credit score but how it is computed: 30% of your credit score is based on total amounts owed, and a crucial part of that is based on how much of your total credit limit on all your cards you are actually using. Obviously, the lower your credit utilization ratio is the better. Canceling a card upon which you owe 30% or more of your limit may have a negative impact on your credit score. Before you cancel the card, apply for a new card with the same credit limit but that does not charge a fee. Subsequently, when you cancel the card with the fee, your credit utilization ratio will not change.

  • We are all too familiar with the sense of motivation. It may come upon us after hearing an inspirational speaker, or reading an uplifting literary work. But oftentimes we are unable to convert that motivation efficiently into action. Social scientists say that there are two types of motives for engaging in an activity- internal and instrumental. An example of internal motive is a student studying hard for the sake of learning, while an example of instrumental motive is the student studying hard to achieve an A. Recent studies suggest that the key to effective motivation lies in internal motives rather than instrumental ones. Engaging in an activity with an internal motive (for the sake of learning) has also proven to be more successful overall with respect to results, versus engaging in the same activity with an instrumental motive (wanting that A). While this may not be all that surprising, it shows that staying focused on the meaning and significance of your work rather than, for example, any financial achievement, will bring forth an increase in not only the quality and effectiveness of the work produced, but also in the financial gains that accompany it as a result.

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Shadow IT

Should IT leaders embrace the Shadow IT? Find out: Pros and Cons of Shadow IT.

Business ethics

Being ethical in all business transactions is not only the appropriate thing to do, it is also an effective business concept: Managing a Company: Business Ethics.

Sustainable tech

Practical suggestions for IT leaders on how to create sustainable technologies and manage them proactively: Creating Sustainable Technologies.

Online resources

To learn more about how to leverage technology to improve core business performance, visit the online resources which include supporting articles and reports.

IT Management

Monthly events focused on technology management at small and mid-sized businesses in Greater New York Area: Read more

IT Operations

20 of the Most Painful Lessons IT Pros Had to Learn the Hard Way:
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