Where can your student find help online?

There’s no age limit to the Internet. Sure, a toddler isn’t exactly going to be able to navigate his way through Web pages, while your 12-year-old can’t have her own Facebook account until she’s at least 13, but overall, nearly anyone can go online to find sources of entertainment, information and other resources.

In fact, it may be a great idea for Canadian parents to allow their little ones to use the Internet with more frequency. We live in an age where it’s not so common for students to spend hours in the library looking up facts in large reference books in order to complete homework, work on a project or compile a presentation – all of that is done using computers now.

As such, it might be good for parents to instill in their kids good information about where they can go to find research and homework help when they use the computer.

Oxford Dictionary Online
OxfordDictionaries.com is a basic but very helpful resource for students online. They can easily look up words in a number of languages – English, Spanish, French, German and Italian. The dictionary then gives the definition, multiple examples of the word being used in a sentence, synonyms, phrases it’s used in and the origin. Moreover, the Oxford Dictionary website allows people to translate their search queries into any of the other languages provided.

The great thing about this website is the fact that people of any age can use it. It’s very straightforward and there will likely always be a use for it – definitely a candidate to be bookmarked.

Rescue Time
Perhaps better for older students, Rescue Time won’t technically help them actually find information, but it will reveal what they do when they’re online. For instance, say a high schooler is writing a term paper – with Rescue Time running in the background, it can tell the student how much time they spent on academic sites versus how many minutes they were on Facebook during this process. This can be an interesting way to reveal kids’ habits and make them more aware of how they can better budget their time.

Diigo is a program that can allow students to highlight passages on websites or add virtual sticky notes to the pages, as well as archive the sites that they use the most. Plus, this information can be synced with smartphones, so they can read up when they’re on the go.

What can parents do?
Simply giving their kids the Web addresses of good education resources isn’t going to be enough to set them on the right path. It’s important that mom and dad teach them best practices from day one, such as not going to websites they don’t know are legitimate, asking before they download anything, understanding how to identify a spam email and so on.

On a practical level, it would also benefit parents to invest in high speed Internet so their kids have all the best resources at their fingertips when ever they need them, rather than having to wait for pages to load or deal with jerky video feeds. Luckily, there are many independent Internet service providers that parents in Canada can go to for fast speeds without having to break the bank.


A HeartBleed Update – TekSavvy and OpenSSL

From time to time a security bug or vulnerability emerges from the woodwork and sweeps quickly across the Internet.  But it’s been a while since we saw much on the scale of Heartbleed , a newly-discovered vulnerability that has created a stir in the blogosphere and in the news.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are procedures for encrypting information that flows across the Web.  “OpenSSL” is free software used widely across the Internet to implement SSL and TLS.  This past Monday, word began to spread of a bug in OpenSSL.  The bug could potentially allow an attacker to discover the SSL encryption keys used to secure usernames, passwords and other traffic on unpatched servers accessed via the Internet. As a result, the Heartbleed bug could effectively allow an attacker to silently eavesdrop on communications between Internet users and servers they thought, or hoped, were secure.

What does this all mean for users of TekSavvy services? TekSavvy doesn’t use the OpenSSL implementation of TLS in its corporate websites.  As a result, Heartbleed has not compromised any of the security of transactions performed in MyAccount or orders placed on www.teksavvy.com. As for our Linux web hosting service, it was quickly upgraded to v1.0.1g, which is not vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug.

How do consumers know they are protected?  As always, be skeptical, and be careful.  But password management company LastPass has also published a tool to check whether a website is vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug (https://lastpass.com/heartbleed/). Check the blogs and twitter feeds of the companies that you deal with for statements as to whether and how they were affected. And, of course, avoid re-using passwords on multiple websites, and change your passwords periodically. If nothing else, Heartbleed should remind us all of the importance of being aware and seeking transparency from each player in the chain of companies that provide the services you use.

For more technical information on Heartbleed and how to stop it follow the links below:

OpenSSL Advisory (https://www.openssl.org/news/secadv_20140407.txt)
OpenSSL Patched Source (https://www.openssl.org/source/)
CERT Vulnerability Notes (http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/720951)
Heartbleed Bug (http://heartbleed.com/)

Pascal Tellier
Chief Information Officer,
TekSavvy Solutions Inc.

Canada Internet falls a bit in speed

As Canadians, we have a lot to be proud of, from our athletes competing at an advanced level on the world stage to various cultural achievements. One thing that we can have a lot of pride in is the fact that, across the nation, we have some of best Internet connections available worldwide. Our Internet service providers (ISPs) consistently offer fast and relatively low-priced options we can use to go online. On top of that, in the past few years, a number of indie ISPs have pulled ahead of the pack in terms of affordability, customer service and convenience.

Where speed in concerned, a number of Canadians are accustomed to fast connections, giving us all of the knowledge we need, at our fingertips nearly instantly. After all, the majority of us go online regularly (80 per cent, according to a 2013 Canadian Internet Registration Authority survey), so why wouldn’t be demand the fastest speeds possible?

However, a recent release published by Ookla revealed that Canada ranks 56th in the world in terms of upload speeds, something that might prove surprising to the many Canadians who enjoy fast connections everyday, which make completing homework, job responsibilities and other tasks so much easier.

Canada falls lower than many other nations
According to the Ookla report, Canada boasts an average 5.32 Mbps upload speed as of Feb. 18, something that falls significantly below that of many other, perhaps less developed, nations. For instance, that figure was bested by Kenya, Ethiopia, Macedonia, Kuwait and Tajikistan.

Hong Kong was the clear frontrunner, with an average 59.68 Mbps speed, something that was unmatched by any other country. Even the second place finisher, Singapore, had a lower score by more than 20 Mbps. Our neighbours to the south also beat Canada in terms of average upload speed, clocking 6.59 Mbps and earning 42nd place on the list.

However, as journalist and author Peter Nowak’s blog pointed out, this report might come at the most opportune time, as the federal government recently began outlining the year’s budget, taking revamping the nation’s Internet infrastructure into account. The news source noted that leaders should take notice of these results, as slowed connections can adversely affect many different elements of the nation, including business, as poor speeds can take a toll on commerce, cloud service and sharing of content on websites.

How can Canadians ensure they’re getting the fastest connections?
If the average upload speed as of Feb. 18 is at 5.32 Mbps, how can Canadians hope to obtain faster connections? To ensure they’re getting the highest speeds, lowest prices and best customer service, consumers should always research the packages offered by all ISPs, including indie companies.

These smaller providers can often surpass the major ISPs in terms of service and pricing options, and indies always make sure to offer the fastest connections possible. Plus, if consumers are unhappy, they aren’t tied into the long, multi-year deals that are required by major ISPs, giving them much more flexibility and ease of use.

L’endroit dans la maison où se trouve votre équipement peut diminuer la qualité de votre connexion Internet.

Conseils pour optimiser votre Internet sans fil

L’endroit dans la maison où se trouve votre modem et votre routeur peut diminuer la qualité de votre connexion Internet.

Toutefois, il est possible d’aménager vos équipements pour améliorer votre signal et le rendre optimal. En premier, il faut trouver un endroit stratégique ; central pour que le signal soit performant, peu importe où sont situés les utilisateurs dans la maison.

Ainsi, si votre bureau est situé à l’étage et que vos adolescents naviguent sur le Web dans la salle familiale au sous-sol, le meilleur emplacement sera au rez-de-chaussée. De plus, disposez votre routeur sans fil à au moins un mètre du sol. Ne le placez pas dans une armoire fermée ou derrière un meuble, disposez-le bien en vue et dégagé.

Pensez aussi aux routeurs de vos voisins. Tentez de diriger votre propre routeur vers l’intérieur de la maison. Votre voisin à son propre équipement et gardez le vôtre pour en profiter pleinement !

Votre routeur peut également être victime d’interférences causées par la réflexion de miroirs ou d’autres objets métalliques. Regardez bien ce qui l’entoure et tentez de le disposer loin de ces objets.

N’oubliez pas que les représentants du service à la clientèle de votre fournisseur Internet peuvent vous donner des conseils judicieux sur l’emplacement optimal de votre équipement. Ils possèdent toutes les compétences requises et se feront un plaisir de vous conseiller !

April Fools’ Day strikes in Canada

During many times of the year, a number of individuals like to remain relatively serious, going about their lives and taking care of tasks and their jobs as normal. However, one day out of the year, people across the nation can get a little wacky and play pranks on their friends, family and coworkers without fear of hurting their feelings or even, in some cases, being punished.

April Fools’ Day is a favourite holiday of many people who are young and those who are simply young at heart. Good-natured pranks are the name of the game when April 1 rolls around every year, and can range from something as simple as setting someone’s alarms early to going on social media websites to make ridiculous claims.

Because we live in such a digital era, many individuals across Canada took to the Internet this year to try to fool their friends and family. So what were some of the best pranks seen throughout the country?

Calgary mayor purchases the Calgary Sun
According to CTV, though many individuals saw right through the gag, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi penned an editorial that ran in the Calgary Sun on April 1 claiming that he’d decided to purchase the newspaper. The Sun’s official Twitter account tweeted that morning that Nenshi’s big announcement would run in the volume that day.

“With a little help from some well-heeled cycling enthusiasts and public art supporters, I have been able to purchase the Calgary Sun from its owner, who is running for office in Quebec and is hasty to shed his connections with the rest of Canada,” the text read, according to the news source.

Roots brand image switch
The news source also reported that clothing company Roots took to its Facebook page to tell customers that it’s brand image was changing from a beaver to a loon. CTV explained that Vice President of Marketing James Connell said in the post that people don’t identify with beavers in today’s culture anymore, and that the loon is much more timely, mostly because of its wingspan.

The Huffington Post Canada has new leaders
Perhaps one of the most intense pranks was the revamp of the entire Huffington Post Canada main Web page. Canada.com reported that the site appeared to be taken over by cats. The various images that appeared on the landing page, including the main “above the fold” picture, as well as the smaller ones that accompanied various news stories – mostly about felines – seemed to signal that the corporation and maybe even the Internet was being overrun with these pets.

Nickelback frontman to run for office
The Edmonton Journal’s website decked itself out with images of a different kind. Visitors to the website were met with a large picture of Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger and his wife Avril Lavigne, as Kroeger wanted to take to the news outlet to announce his entrance into the race to be the leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. Canada.com reported that the fake news story also pointed out that if he was named the successor of Alison Redford, he’d automatically be premier.

More Canadians shopping online than ever

There are many reasons people take to the Internet these days. After all, almost anything can be accomplished online. Consider the fact that many utilities businesses allow customers to pay bills, students can do research for homework or projects, many employees can accomplish work tasks and so on.

However, one of the biggest and most popular activities that can be pursued on the Internet is shopping. At this point, a number of individuals likely find this more convenient than going to a store. Consumers can go on their favourite brand’s website, probably find a bigger selection than is available in one location, complete a transaction in just a few clicks and have the item delivered right to their front door without ever having to leave the couch.

Recent research published by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that the majority of Canadian consumers who go online regularly shop on the Internet with frequency.

Who’s shopping online?
According to the “Total Retail: Customer Expectations Driving the Next Retail Business Model” study, 87 per cent of Canadians who use the Internet shop online at least once a year, while 49 per cent note that they do this at least monthly.

And because a 2013 study published by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority found that approximately 80 per cent of Canadians use the Internet regularly, which equates to about 27 million individuals, the true number of online shoppers is extremely large.

On top of that, more people seem amenable to taking this action in the future – 42 per cent of respondents to the PwC survey said that if their favourite nearby shop closed, they’d be willing to take to the Internet to find the products they want.

The report also noted that people are becoming more online shopping-friendly because of the convenience factor. The No. 1 reason for taking to e-commerce platforms was the fact that people can shop from their own houses at any time of the day. Then, 55 per cent noted that they believe they they’ll find better deals and sales if they go on the Internet.

What does this mean for the future?
There are a number of sentiments revealed by these results. Two industries, in particular, can benefit significantly from a rising volume of Internet shopping. Obviously, the retail sector might be able to see the largest returns – however, this should put store owners across the nation on high alert that they need to have a website in order to properly compete down the road. Moreover, it should be optimized for multiple devices as new technologies emerge.

On top of that, this trend can mean great things for Internet service providers (ISPs). If individuals are taking to the Internet more, they’re going to need a worthwhile connection, something they can find from indie ISPs. Plus, these are the providers individuals will want to seek out – they tend to be much cheaper than their larger counterparts, something that’s a must for those who plan on spending money shopping online.

Canadian video watchers may soon find relief: A cat video festival

For many people across the globe, the Internet is something that makes various aspects of their lives so much easier. For instance, it might not always be convenient to buy stamps, write out checks and send a bill to a utilities provider via the mail. However, because businesses around the world are increasingly incorporating the Internet into their operations, many allow consumers to pay their bills online. Moreover, people can balance their personal finances, accomplish many work tasks, do homework and communicate with friends and family members, among a plethora of other activities, via the Internet.

However, it’s not all business. A lot of individuals use the Internet for its entertainment value. For instance, they can buy a Netflix account, which allows users access to some of the most popular TV programmes and films out there, which they can pause, rewind and fast-forward at their leisure. Others might be gamers, interested in connecting with individuals from all corners of the globe while indulging in their favourite role-playing game, or perhaps reading an eBook with a tablet or other device.

One favourite pastime when on the Internet is watching videos. This is particularly true in Canada. According to a March 2013 release published by comScore, Canada ranks second worldwide for monthly online video watching. The report explained that the average Canadian watches 25 hours’ worth of videos each month on sites like YouTube, which equates to a grand total of 291 videos per viewer.

While everyone certainly has different preferences on what they want to watch, it would appear, based on recent interest and demand, that a number of people across Canada enjoy watching one type of clip in particular: cat videos.

Laureen Harper to make an appearance
According to The Huffington Post Canada, on April 17, Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox will play host to the Just for Cats: Internet Cat Video Film Festival. The source reported that the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Laureen Harper, will be featured as the co-host. The fun won’t stop there – the festival will make its way to Montreal, Regina, Saskatoon and Vancouver, among other cities, later on in the year.

Fan favourites are sure to be featured, QMI Agency suggested, from clips of Grumpy Cat to those featuring Henri le Chat Noir.

What do fans need?
In order to not only find out the latest news on the winners and losers at the cat video film festival but discover their own favourite clips, viewers are going to need a few things. Obviously, a device that is Internet-enabled will be crucial, and that depends on the preference of the individual. Some might like the often larger screen of a PC when watching videos of felines, while others might choose the dexterity of a wireless device like a tablet.

But perhaps the most important part of the equation is the connection. Individuals who watch videos online tend to like to use Internet service providers (ISPs) that are dependable and are quick to answer any questions or concerns with quality. Many agree that indie ISPs could be the best option, offering optimal connections at low prices. After all, who wants to be watching their favourite cat clip and have a choppy feed?

Image Source: http://redstaplerchronicles.com/has-the-internet-just-become-one-giant-lynch-mob/

The Internet: A Platform for Lynching or for Fighting Social Injustice?

Recently, while listening to a CBC podcast on the use of the Internet as a tool to fight social injustice, I found my own well established views of what constitutes good and evil blurring ever so slightly around the edges.  The episode, “Anonymous and the Rehtaeh Parsons Case:  Online Avengers or an Online Lynch Mob?”, recounted the actions taken by anonymous activists, self-titled “online avengers” to seek justice on behalf of Retaeh Parsons, the 17 year old Dartmouth teen who was allegedly cyberbullied for years and died following a suicide attempt.

Also known as “hacktivists” or “white knights”, online avengers use digital technology to increase awareness, fight social injustice, and advocate for political change.  While activism and civil disobedience, are not necessarily new (think Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi) they can be incredibly powerful tools to initiate change.  In the same vein, many would agree that the Internet is often used in our modern world as a highly effective platform to wage wars against social injustice.

While contemplating this idea, I was struck with the overwhelming task of trying to draw a line in the sand about the difference between online activism and online vigilantism.  In vain, I tried to find answers to challenging questions such as when does the fight for social justice in the digital sphere turn into something destructive and counterproductive?  Further, are people who take up causes in the name of social justice actually using technology to create meaningful, positive change or are they simply using the power of anonymity to bully, spread hate, and intimidate?

Where do you weigh in on this topic?

Catch the CBC original podcast at:  http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/02/11/anonymous-the-rehteah-parsons-case-online-avengers-or-an-online-lynch-mob/

To see the original article, “The Online Avengers:  Are antibullying activists the saviors of the Internet — or just a different kind of curse?” written by Emily Bazelonjan, Jan. 15, 2014 and posted on nytimes.com visit:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/the-online-avengers.html?_r=0

The opinions expressed by this blogger are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of TekSavvy Solutions Inc.

How can you watch big sporting events online?

The 2014 Olympic Games are now over, to the sure chagrin of many. Chances are very good that a lot of Canadians tuned in to these international sporting events, especially given the fact that both our men’s and women’s ice hockey teams won gold.

But one of the most challenging things about watching this year’s games was the fact that they were held halfway around the world. While, sure, the major TV networks replayed many of the events during primetime, people probably had to avoid spoilers on the Internet, on the nightly news and from their friends and family. Alternately , they could have just watched the events in real time during the middle of the day.

Of course, for many Canadians, that would have meant turning on TV in the office, which isn’t always possible if the company hasn’t invested in screens, or even working from home. That might have worked for a few of the events during the two weeks or so the Olympics were on, but that probably won’t be the case during other times. This might be a problem for some rabid sports fans, especially since hockey season is now on its backend and baseball is just around the corner – and afternoon games are relatively common in both sports.

However, the Internet can provide a lot of relief if you’re stuck in the office or elsewhere when your favourite team is about to play. Canadians who want to catch the game as play is unfolding should consider taking a page out of the books of many who watched the Olympics in real time.

More than 15 million people watched
According to The Globe and Mail, more than 15 million Canadians watched the gold medal men’s hockey match where Canada bested Sweden to take the gold. That’s a massive number of people, considering the nation has a population of about 27 million. And many of these individuals surely tuned in on the Internet – the newspaper reported that CBC claimed a television audience of 8.5 million.

The viewers may have found a specific streaming website to watch the play-by-play action, or they could have taken to the CBC website to find a connection to what was going on in Sochi. Many times, it’s best to head to official channels so as to avoid viruses or other malware.

This is what approximately 625,000 viewers did during the Feb. 21 game between Canada and the United States. The news outlet, citing CBC data, noted that these individuals tuned in on the Internet, either on traditional computers or via mobile devices.

High speeds are key
When streaming video content, it’s important that individuals have access to a high speed connection. After all, when you’re watching a game, you don’t want to be bogged down with slow-moving video, choppy cuts and freezing, because what’s the point of watching the event at all if it’s sub-par? There are plenty of Internet service providers (ISPs) that provide fantastic and speedy connections that will impress even the biggest of sports fans.

Kiss Me I'm Irish.

Getting Lucky Online This St. Patrick’s Day

Calling all singletons!  Are you looking for love this St. Patrick’s Day?  Why not try online dating?

The latest figures suggest that as many as 1 out of 5 relationships start online through social media, Facebook, Twitter, mobile apps, or traditional dating websites. Online dating services, such as EHarmony Canada, which boasts a membership of over 20 million Canadians, have become one of the most common places to meet people in the digital age. With the ever increasing popularity of digital dating, one has to wonder, is cyberspace really the hot new gathering place that helps people get lucky with love?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. While many advocates boast the pros of online dating (e.g. it’s available 24/7, it allows you to meet people outside of your geographical area and social circles, it helps to pinpoint favorable matches, etc.), there are just as many opponents that lament the cons (e.g. enhanced profiles often show the “good” and fall short of showing the “bad” or the “ugly”, it relies on secret algorithms that have no scientific basis, it overwhelms users with potential dating partners to the point where they abandon the site entirely, etc.).

Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, current research by Discovery.com suggests that there are some things that you can do to increase the chances getting lucky online this St. Patrick’s Day. Simple strategies such as reducing the amount of time spent browsing, increasing actual face-to-face encounters, using apps that send alerts when a potential love interest is nearby and training to improve communication skills help make a great first impression improve the odds of success.

Still not convinced? If all else fails, tango.com recommends logging onto your favorite online dating site wearing some green and to change your heading to say “Do you have the luck of the Irish this weekend?”. Odds are that this will definitely increase your chances of getting lucky this St. Patrick’s Day!

What are your thoughts on online dating? Do you have any tips or lucky tricks that are foolproof for finding love?

The opinions expressed by this blogger are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of TekSavvy Solutions Inc.