The Origins of 10 Popular Tech Terms! | Fraser Valley Tech Consultants

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The world of the internet has given birth to many new and bizarre terms. In fact, the poor old Oxford English Dictionary has to add 100’s of new words to its roster, every year, thanks to pop culture and the internet! Some of these are obvious in their origins… but then there are some that make you scratch your head. Whilst this article could be a LOT longer, we’ve picked 10 of the most popular for you…

Blog

The popular Blogging world, as we know it, began with a writer by the name of Jorn Barger in 1997. He created a site where he shared links with his readers, and called it “Robot Wisdom WebLog” - the WebLog part being a shortened reference of logging the web. 2 years later, programmer Peter Merholz shortened “Weblog” again to “blog”, and it was subsequently picked up by users on platforms like Wordpress.

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Bug

This is one of those terms that has multiple claims for its origin. In the 1870’s Thomas Edison talked about "bugs" in the electrical circuits in his notebooks. However, it’s first usage in the computer world was believed to have been in 1947. Computer pioneer, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, was working on the Harvard Mark II computer when work was suspended due to the presence of a moth stuck in a relay. The moth was caught and taped into the logbook, along with the comment “first actual case of bug being found”. The moth, still in his sticky-taped incarceration, can actually be seen on display in the Smithsonian Museum.

Cookies

Once again, the origin of this one is up for some debate. One story goes that is it a reference to the fortune cookie – where your remembered information hidden inside some code is compared to the little piece of paper hidden inside the sweet treat.

However, the inventor of the web cookie, Lou Montulli, explained in his blog,

"I had heard the term 'magic cookie' from an operating systems course from college ... I liked the term 'cookies' for aesthetic reasons. Cookies was the first thing I came up with and the name stuck."

We don’t know for certain where "magic cookies" came from, but another theory out there was that it is a reference to old video games, where players had to gain "magic cookies" to advance.

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Emoji

The word emoji comes from the Japanese 絵 (e = picture) 文 (mo = writing) 字 (ji = character). Shigetaka Kurita invented the concept in 1999 and it began with simple, rudimentary symbols like the smiley face and the first 250 emoji as we now know them today.

Unfortunately, his former company, Docomo, wasn't able to obtain a copyright for his invention, and Apple soon added them to their devices with glee, making them the global phenomenon that they are today, and regressing us to a form of communication that we thought had died with the ancient Egyptians!

Firewall

This term has been around for hundreds of years and is a literal description of what it was - a wall designed to protect buildings from a spreading fire. In the computer world, the threat may be viruses rather than fire, but the function of stopping them spread to the important contents is the same.

Hashtag

Once upon a time, the "#" symbol was called the pound sign. But that only really worked in the U.S., as in the UK, if you talked about a pound sign, they would assume you were talking about their currency, which used a completely different character, £.  To the Brits (and many other cultures) # was called a hash sign. The world then shrunk exponentially, with the birth of the internet, and the pound sign’s non-US name (hash) took over.  So, when the symbol was adopted for the online search function, “tag” was simply added to describe the word following the hash and voila,"hashtag"!

Spam

Fans of Monty Python should be able to work out where this term comes from! If you are not a fan, the comedy team wrote a sketch about these cans of…er… “lunch meat” (is it meat??!) in which the word spam was repeated over and over. Early chatroom fans started using the word "spam" to refer to people who clogged up chatrooms with macros that said the same things over and over again. So, when piles of unwanted email began similarly clogging up the internet in the early 90s, these people began to call it spam too.

Stream

Remember when a stream was just a nice flowing little river? Now, it’s more linked with the continuous flow of data and content fed to us on hour-devouring platforms like YouTube and Netflix (or whatever new streaming services we are about to be bombarded with in the upcoming months!). Streaming data isn’t that new though, and actually dates back to the 1920s. The first use of the term streaming was for the system that sent signals over electrical lines, and later evolved into elevator music.

Troll

You could be forgiven for thinking this one started with the annoying creatures that hide under bridges in Scandinavian folklore – and in fact, they do now bear a strong resemblance. However, it originally came from the verb "trolling," - a fishing technique where you slowly drag a baited hook from the boat while still moving.

It is believed that the term was first used online in the AFU newsgroup, which discussed urban legends and was famous (or should that be infamous) for being a minefield for newbies to the group. The more seasoned group members would haze the newbies by baiting them with topics that had already been previously discussed to death. In the late 90s, however, the site became so busy that this trolling itself was considered more annoying, giving it a more negative feel. Now, it is used to describe an annoying person just looking to pick a fight, leaning more towards the alternative Scandinavian origin.

404

As much as I’d love to regale you with a fantastical tale of how something was stolen by 404 monkeys in a tale of pirates and adventurers, this one is a bit more boring. "404 Not Found/Error" is just a coding reference. The first 4 indicates a client error, such as a mistyped URL and the next two digits, 04, just indicate the specific error encountered, which is why that site wasn't found. That’s it really!

6 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts That You May Not Know Yet | Lower Mainland Tech Support Team

Ahh… keyboard shortcuts are beautiful things! I think most of us probably already know about the magic copy and paste shortcuts, but there is a whole world of shortcuts out there that you may still not know yet! Being the friendly, local neighbourhood tech-help gurus that we are, we thought we would give you a few more, to help speed up your workflow…

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Back to the Desktop

Got a bunch of windows/apps open and want to get back to the desktop underneath them all? Just press the windows key and M!

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See All Open Apps

Just pressing Ctrl + Alt + Tab (or Ctrl + Tab on a Mac) and you will get a screen shot of all the app windows you currently have running.

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See Everything Open!

The windows key + Tab will give you an overview of all the open apps AND virtual desktops you have running.

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Task Manager

Stuck with a crashed program and need to shut it down in the Task Manager? Just hit Ctrl + Shift + Escape (Command + Option + Escape on Mac)

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Zoom In!

Need a close-up of something on your screen? You can magnify the area that the cursor is in with Windows and + keys, and then zoom back out with the Windows and – keys. (Alt Command & + or – on Mac)

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Take a Break

Need to step away from your desk, but don’t want anyone touching or seeing what you are working on? You can lock your desktop with Windows + L.

Of course, there are many more… but that should help to start you off!

 

An Update on the latest Updates! (Critical Software Updates, that is...) | Fraser Valley IT Support

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Have you got your machine running updates automatically? If the answer is yes, you can breathe a sigh of relief and carry on with your day. If not, stop what you are doing, and get on to it straight away! Updates are way more than being about adding cool new functions and tools. Their primary purpose is to protect you against the ever-changing malware landscape and its constant onslaught of attacks. Brand new attacks are being developed daily, so software developers have to be equally proactive with patches to block them.

It is patching time at Microsoft, and the latest release contain advisories and updates to take care of 94 vulnerabilities for Windows and various other products, like Explorer, Edge, Visual Studio, Active Directory and Microsoft Dynamics. 26 of these updates are being rated as critical.

2 of these are to protect against 2 new ‘wormable’, critical, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) vulnerabilities and affect all versions of Windows, including 10 and Windows Server. If left unfixed, cybercriminals could use the vulnerabilities to remotely access an unprotected computer and install malware… so this one is a bit of a get-it-patched-now kind of job!

To follow suit, Adobe has also released a group of patch updates. Theirs will take care of 119 vulnerabilities, including patches in Creative Cloud, and the very popular Acrobat and Reader. The most critical of which should block up the chance of data leakage from an arbitrary code execution.

If you have a business in Chillwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Hope or surrounding areas, and are not sure if your software is updating like it should be, our team of friendly, local I.T. experts are happy to help. Give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com.

Office 365 Licensing Change | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Computer Consulting Experts

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Later this month, Microsoft are rolling out changes to the way it manages your Office 365 license. According to their official update notification “These changes will help simplify activation management and streamline the Office activation experience for users.” Most people will probably not notice a difference, but if you happen to run your 365 on multiple devices, you may see the change.

Subscribers can use their Office 365 account on up to 5 computers, 5 tablets and 5 smartphones. Currently, if you reach the device limit, you are asked to deactivate one of your installations before activating Office on a new device. Once the change comes into affect, you won’t have to anymore! Office will simply log you out of your least-recently used device when you reach your login limit.

As before, you will still sign-in to activate Office on your devices, and Office will automatically pick up the credentials and activate Office, if single sign-on is enabled.

For subscribers on the Monthly Channel, this is expected to start in late August, (although no specific date has been announced yet), and like all other updates, will just happen automatically.  

Two Factor Authentication – What Is It and Do You Need It? | Fraser Valley Technology Consultants

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The world of digital security is a minefield, these days. It is now almost a daily occurrence to see companies either fall victim to (or be fined for) major data breaches. (The list of companies hit makes for some impressive reading!) In fact, there have been over 14 billion data breaches since 2013, and that number is fast increasing, with 75 data records are being stolen every second!

Not all breaches are caused by nefarious hackers. Believe it or not, they only amount for just over 40% of breaches. Other causes making up the remainder include technical glitches or employee error.

We’ve said it before. Passwords should be complicated and changed often. But can you do more? Yes, you can!

What is 2FA?

One snazzy concept that was introduced to thwart login hackers is two factor authentication (2FA). This is where, after you have entered your password, you add a 2nd way to tell the site that you are definitely you! (Like the way, in the movies, that the scientists entering the super-secret spy lab have to use a swipe card and then a retinal scanner to gain entry.) Since you need both to access the account, this extra layer of security seriously increases the protection of sensitive data from these cases of a password database being stolen or hacked.

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This second layer can be biometric, like with face detection or fingerprint scanning software, or it can involve sending a one-time-use number code to another device you own, via a text or special app. The latter is probably the most commonly seen and used, at the moment .

Should I use it?

Yes! So many companies are now offering it as an option – Apple, Square, Intuit, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Dropbox, PayPal, GoDaddy…and so on. If a site gives you the option, take it! (Especially anywhere that will have any valuable ID info, financial records or payment details.) You can see who has it and who doesn’t at twofactorauth.org. If you are not sure how to turn on 2FA at those sites, Telesign have set up a website, with tutorials, to show you how!

Picking a Backup Solution For You | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support

Backup, backup, backup! We say it all the time. We mention it frequently in our articles. Backing your files up can be, probably, the most important thing you can do to protect your business against a whole range of natural or security disasters.

Online Backup vs Online Storage

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When looking at your online backup options, you may be wondering what the difference is between online backups over online storage. (And it is an important difference to understand, as it can affect which service you choose to fit your business needs.)

Put simply Online Storage is just like it says on the tin – storage for your files online! It acts like an additional hard drive, where you can store your files separately to your physical computer, and also share them with others. Some services sync files as your store or alter them. So, if you delete the file from the computer, the file is also deleted from the online storage. Other storage services will only have the version you uploaded in the first place.

Examples of storage services are DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive (included with Office365 Business Plans), Sync.com and iDrive.

In contrast, an Online Backup takes a copy of your files and stores them online in a secure repository. This allows the service to keep copies of files for days… weeks… even years after they have been deleted from the computer.

Some more premium backup systems take things to the next level and take a snapshot of your hard-drive and replicate everything on it – allowing you to recover your entire computer or server. These services are concentrating more on securely protecting your data and giving you the chance to restore everything in the case of a theft or computer failure.

Examples are BackBlaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan and SOS Online Backup For Business.

So, which is right for you?

Well, there are lot of factors to consider on this one. Every business is unique, so you need to look at how your business operates to decide. Questions to take into consideration are:

  • What kind of files are you dealing with?

  • How many machines do you need to backup?

  • How much data do you need to backup?

  • How often is your data updated?

  • What is your budget?

  • Do you have an industry compliance to consider? (Financial, medical, country-specific etc)

If you are having difficulty deciding on which option is better for you and your business, our team can certainly help! Just give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com

Our Top Tips to Avoid Device Theft When Travelling | Fraser Valley Tech Consultants

Many of the people we work with spend a fair amount of time out of the traditional office setting and on the road. Since summer is now fully with us and, probably, the most popular season for travelling, we thought it was a good time to give a few reminders and tips on how to avoid your tech (or data) being stolen while you are on the road!

Image by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Image by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The temporary coffee shop office

This should be a no-brainer, but you would be shocked how many times we have been at a coffee shop and watched someone leave an untethered laptop or bag, while they disappear to the bathroom. You can be complacent and say “oh, it’s a quiet, local spot… we’re in a safe part of town”, but it takes seconds for an opportunist thief to swoop by. Not only are you vulnerable to theft, though, you are also vulnerable to prying eyes!

If you are working remotely at somewhere at a coffee shop, you should be taking the following precautions:

1.      Use a laptop tether to secure your device to the table.

2.      If you need the bathroom, and you are alone, take your bag with you!!!

3.      Be aware of who/what is behind you, especially if you have sensitive info on the screen. (Ideally locate yourself so only a solid wall is behind you.)

4.      Try to avoid using the “free WiFi”, but if you really must, only use websites that use HTTPS, make sure you are definitely on the coffee shop owner’s WiFi and use a VPN before logging into any accounts or view sensitive data. (A recent survey found 70% of hacks actually took place through unsecured public Wifi!)

Photo by   Oleg Magni   from   Pexels

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Security at your destination

No matter where you go in the world, there will always be plenty of light-fingered friends to relieve you of your prized tech. Beaches are a goldmine for pickpockets and petty thieves. Once again, it can only take a few seconds for someone to scoop your bag (and valuable tech devices) while you quickly cool off in the waves.

1.      The best defense is to simply not take your mobile devices to the beach!

2.      Make use of the hotel safes.

3.      If you must take your device, and want to swim, (and it’s not waterproof) look at purchasing a waterproof case so you can keep it with you.

4.      If you must take your device and want to take a nap on the beach, keep the device discretely tucked away and preferably anchored/hidden under your body!

5.      Be vigilant of unexpected distractions. Thieves can use these as a diversion, and when your gaze wanders, your stuff becomes theirs!

6.      Keep close to lifeguard towers. Of course, these guys are there for safety and not to watch your stuff… but thieves will avoid those areas because of the higher risk of getting caught.

The airport security scam

If a flight is on your travelling agenda, watch out for the dreaded X-ray scanner scam! Here is how it works…

At the airport security check, the first scammer will go through the line quickly & efficiently. A second scammer will wait until the people just behind them have loaded up their tech devices (cellphones, laptops etc) to the x-ray machine conveyor belt, and then proceed to hold these people up (something innocently-looking like struggling to get keys or change out of a pocket).  The first scammer then scoops up those devices as they emerge from the x-ray at the other end and walks away!

Be vigilant and only put your devices on the belt when it is your turn to go through, keeping an eye on them as they pass by! If you see someone taking an unhealthy interest in your devices, alert security personnel immediately.

Safe travels!