What is an SSL?

Our clients are typically non-technical businesses — they are lawyers, bankers, restaurants, entertainers, doctors and the like. As web developers, we typically face a series of questions about security from our clients. “What is an SSL?” “What does a ‘secure site’ mean?” and so forth, which we try to explain in “plain English” terms. Recently we’ve become aware of a new industry offering, the Free SSL Project, that has brought renewed attention to this corner of Internet technology. In this article we will give a high-level overview of SSL technology for the non-technical, “in plain English.”

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Taming Your Passwords

Is it me, or have passwords gotten out of control lately?   Actually, I know it's not me -- they have!  Every aspect of our daily lives, personal and professional, are now managed online in a different service requiring a password, and they all have their own rules and quirks, so you can't possibly remember them all.  If you're about to throw your computer off a ledge in frustration, I suggest you sit, take a deep breath, and read this article first.  "It gets better."  Trust me.

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Mobilegeddon – Is Your Website Safe?

Earlier today Google announced the launch of their new mobile search algorithm that will effect the way mobile search results are ranked.  The update, that could take up to a week to roll out, will give priority rank to “mobile-friendly” websites when searching on a smartphone, while burying non-mobile-friendly sites in searches performed from a smartphone. But don’t freak out, it’s not the end of the world.

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How to Fix a Misspelled Word in iOS Autocorrect Dictionary

It has become en vogue to make fun of the iPhone’s Autocorrect feature. Websites like Damn You, Autocorrect (aka DYAC) poke fun at many of the hilarious conversations that can ensue.

One of the particularly annoying situations is when autocorrect is coupled with the iPhone’s auto-learning features — your fingers are flying over the keys and type incorrectly and accidentally hit pop-up options that cause the iPhone to “learn” your misspelling. Now and forevermore, any time you type the word CORRECTLY the darned phone will automatically “fix” it for you by MISspelling it!

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5 Easy Ways a Small Business Can Build Its E-mail List

E-mail marketing is everywhere these days and if you’re not making your way into your customers’ inboxes, then your business is missing out. Not just on important sales dollars, but other important business builders such as increasing brand recognition and creating more meaningful relationships with your audience. However, e-mail marketing can be a tricky endeavor. It has to be done correctly (let’s not forget the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003), and more importantly, your business has to work hard to construct a solid database of recipients – because let’s face it, if there is one to receive your e-mails, there really isn’t much point, is there?

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Microsoft Should Not Be In The Browser Business

I presume by now that you have seen the news about the latest (as of this writing) serious security hole in Microsoft Internet Explorer (aka IE). Arguably the greatest security flaw in IE to date, it allows a hacker to take control of your machine and feed it new malware and spy bots to steal passwords, financial data and more. And it took weeks for Microsoft to produce a patch, exposing umpteen millions of users.

This issue makes me ask yet again: "Why is Microsoft even in the browser business?" As a web developer, I find it maddening.

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Instances When Social Media #NailedIt

We have all seen them – the endless stories that come out around New Year’s counting down the biggest social media blunders, the hugest social media fails and last but never least, the top social media disasters. Don’t get me wrong, I love sneering and laughing at these countdowns lists as much as the next social media junkie, but it got me thinking. How often do we take a step back to assess the moments when social media totally nails it and does something great for a person or community? Not nearly enough.

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SnapChat Spurns $3Bn Offer

So Facebook offered $3 Billion to buy SnapChat, which has no revenue, and SnapChat refused the offer.

People have been asking me "Why? Are they crazy?!"

SnapChat thinks they have the next big thing. And quite honestly, they just might.

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WebEx Teleconferencing for Small Businesses

Exactly three years ago in August,  I wrote a blog article about using Skype as a business tool.  Now, a full three years later, I'm more sold than ever on the concept of video/teleconferencing, but with a much better tool of choice:  Cisco's WebEx.

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Adding a Facebook Funding Source

Many of our social media clients have started to incorporate Facebook ad campaigns into their social media budgets. To run ads on Facebook, you must enter your credit card information. Facebook refers to this as the “Funding Source.” Facebook will automatically charge this credit card (the “Funding Source”) at regular intervals for the ads placed so far.

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It's Tradeshow Season - 3 Tips to Increase Your ROI

There is a famous line by Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” That's a great hook for a movie but in real life, not so much. And if this was your attitude for your last trade show, chances are that your ROI was not as high as you had originally predicted.

If this is the case, there are a few things that you need to change – design, marketing, and increasing value.

(note: This article is targetted towards the small business market that typically books 10' x 10' standard tradeshow spots)

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Streaming Media Choices - AppleTV versus Roku

This is a little bit off topic from what I normally do here, but with the holidays approaching a lot of clients, friends and family have been asking for my opinion on streaming media devices and services. Thus, I thought I'd share my opinions on the subject. Please take this only as a personal opinion of a techie and gadget enthusiast, and note that we do not sell, support or service any of these devices.

Streaming media (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, etc.) are growing in popularity. People who know me personally and follow me on Facebook will know that I'm a huge fan of Internet-based streaming media. I "cut the cord" (cable TV) for several years, relying only on Hulu and Netflix in a grand experiment.

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Tip: Easier Screenshots on the Mac

This is a little different than our typical post, but we came across a "Power User" tip that, when combined with a few other steps, creates a REALLY useful little productivity boon for anyone who has to do a lot of screenshots on the Mac (developers, bloggers, journalists, marketing folks, etc.).

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Hacker Takes Down Millions of Websites

Most of my clients have heard me complain about Mondays before -- they're terrible. Not in a mythical way, or an "ugh! I have to go back to work" way, but for many reasons that are real and provable.

But today took the cake.

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Alert: Social Engineering, Phishing and Hacking, Oh My!

As the classic Billy Joel song starts:  "Got a call from an old friend, we used to be real close..."

He called to alert me that someone had gotten into one of his accounts and was wreaking havoc.  "How could someone access my account?" he asked.

"They probably got your password," I said.     "But how?" he asked.

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4 Quick & Easy Ways To Customize Your Facebook Page

A 2012 study of Facebook revealed that there are currently over 845 million (active monthly) users and more than 37 million pages (with 10+ likes). With such a tremendous number of users and pages out there, it is easy to fall into relative anonymity with your target audience. This begs the question, what makes your page different?

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Is Your Site Mobile Ready? 6 Things to Consider When Making Your Mobile Site

It is estimated that 90% of companies are either entirely ignoring or at least woefully lacking in mobile device support for their web sites.  This is a massive percentage when you consider at how popular mobile web surfing has become in just the past year -- mobile has exploded onto the scene!  By 2013 it is estimated that almost half (48%) of web searches will be done via mobile devices.

This begs the question: is your web site mobile ready? If not, there are a few things you should consider when updating your site/services.

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400,000 Emails & Passwords Breached

In the latest news, Yahoo! announced today that 400,000 email addresses and passwords were breached yesterday and publicly posted online for all to see (and steal).  Supposedly the list has been taken down, but of course the cat is out of the bag.  Here's a link to the story in the NY Times.  And before you think "Oh, I don't use Yahoo! so I'm OK", note that the issue extends to AOL, Gmail and Hotmail users too!

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Upgrading to Office 2011 for Mac

We've recently upgraded to Office 2011 for Mac, and thought we'd share a few details that we've learned along the way, because it's nearly impossible to find the answers to some fairly basic questions upfront, beforehand. No disrespect intended, but all we could find online were answers like "...I'm not familiar with how it works, but here's what I'd do anyway..." Basically, they're talking out their a**es.

Please note that 401 Consulting isn't in the business of desktop computer/application support. 

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