Tag Archives: Better

Why People Don't Like It When You Try to Change for the Better
October 18, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

None of us are supposed to be static beings. We’re supposed to learn, to sweeten like wine over time into something better than we were yesterday. We constantly laud that idea. When we finally go to practice self-improvement, though, something quirky happens–people who once promised their support withdraw to the background or seem grumpier than a woodchuck with a toothache.

Why does this happen? Research led by Lydia Emery from Northwestern University might offer a clue, as summarized by Ashley Lyles in Psychology Today. Over several studies, individuals thought about how their partners had changed. They indicated how much previous or anticipated support or resistance they had to those changes. Researchers had the individuals self-assess how clear they were about their self-concept, as well.

The researchers found that, when people had lower clarity about their self-concept, they generally were not as supportive of their partner changing. The team concluded that this was because the individuals worried that changes in their partner meant they would have to change, too. Without a solid idea of who they were on their own, they were unsettled not knowing how the partners would redefine them.

While this work focused on more intimate, romantic relationships, it’s reasonable to believe that the same results could happen with anybody we feel deeply connected to. This includes family members who help with entrepreneurial efforts, mentors or team members you’ve bonded with. It’s human nature to cling to familiarity to some degree, and because we use external validation to form and confirm our perception of ourselves, it can be scary to see those we see as our foundation become willing to shift. We have to face the question of whether the changes we see somehow will alter our future or, worse, break the connection with the person who means so much to us.

So it’s not that people don’t care about what you want to do. In fact, they probably really want you to achieve and reach your goals. It’s just that they need to know who they are without you. You can help them figure that out by

  • Encouraging them to try new things
  • Asking for their opinion
  • Inquiring about what they want or value
  • Getting them more information or resources to explore their hobbies and interests
  • Tactfully pointing out both strengths and weaknesses in a positive way
  • Connecting them with new people
  • Stepping back so they can take more control
  • Encouraging them to try again after mistakes
  • Taking time to listen about deeper experiences that can fuel fear and timidity

The more you build the other person up through these strategies, the more they’ll be able to stand on their own. And once that happens, you should see their support of your self-improvement go up, too.

Published on: Oct 18, 2018

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How to Secure Your Accounts With Better Two-Factor Authentication
July 22, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

Hopefully by now you’ve heeded the repeated warnings from your friends and loved ones (and friendly, beloved internet writers) to use two-factor authentication to secure your digital accounts. That’s where access to Facebook or Twitter or your online bank—anything that supports it, really—requires not just a password but also a special code. Not all two-factor is created equal, however. For better protection, you’re going to want an authenticator app.

Yes, the easiest way to implement two-factor is with SMS, receiving a text with an access code every time you try to log into a secured account. While certainly better than nothing, getting your 2FA from SMS has plenty of potential downside. Specifically, it leaves you exposed if someone hijacks your smartphone’s SIM, a longtime problem that has only gotten worse of late. By stealing your phone number, hackers can redirect any two-factor notifications to their own devices, allowing them much easier entry to your accounts.

“Unfortunately, it isn’t that hard for thieves to impersonate you to your mobile phone carrier and hijack your mobile phone number—either with a phone call to customer support or walking into a phone store,” says Lorrie Cranor, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University and former FTC technologist who had her own SIM stolen in 2016. Authenticator apps are not vulnerable to this problem, and thus are a more secure way to do two-factor verification.

Instagram, in particular, has seen a surge of troubling SIM attacks, largely because it only supports text-based two-factor for now. The company confirmed that it’s working on the obvious solution: Letting you use an authenticator app instead.

“Authenticator apps are not vulnerable to this problem” of SIM hijacking, says Cranor. “They’re a more secure way to do two-factor verification.”

The good news? Most of the sensitive accounts you use today already offer stronger 2FA. And there’s no shortage of third-party authenticator apps that’ll enable it for you. Here’s how to get set up, and make your sign-ins that much more stress-free.

The Basics

The most popular authenticator apps are Google Authenticator and Authy, but password managers 1Password and LastPass offer the service as well, if that helps you streamline. If you’re heavy into Microsoft’s ecosystem, you might want Microsoft Authenticator. While they all differ somewhat in features, the core functionality is the same no matter which one you use.

Rather than send you an SMS, each of these apps shows you a randomly generated six-digit code that refreshes roughly every 30 seconds, and stays constantly synced with whichever service you’re trying to log into. The benefits of tying those codes to a physical device, rather than your phone number, extend beyond security; apps like Google Authenticator generally continue to work even without an internet or cell connection. If 2FA has ever locked you out of Facebook on a flight, here’s some relief.

Most services you would want to secure offer this type of token-based 2FA; Instagram is more of the exception than the rule at this point. You can see a comprehensive list for yourself here. As for which app to use, Google Authenticator offers a barebones experience backed by a company with a sterling security record, while Authy offers more features, like being able to pull codes from not just your smartphone but your desktop or tablet. It also lets you back up your codes to the cloud, enabling a seamless migration when you inevitably upgrade your smartphone. With Google Authenticator, when you switch your main device, you have to sync your accounts over again.

For that reason, we’ll use Authy for a quick walkthrough of how to actually use a more secure 2FA app. The steps are basically the same on Google Authenticator, but it covers a little more ground.

Lock It Down

Step one: Download the app. See? This is easy. No sweat.

Once you open Authy, it’ll ask for your phone number, and then send you a registration code via either phone call, SMS, or another device. From there, it’s a blank slate until you start pairing it with the accounts you want to secure.

Here comes the drudgery. You’ll need to go to every single account you want to pair your authenticator app with; there’s no omnibus route, and no automated way to transition from SMS to Authy or Authenticator. The silver lining: While you have to repeat the set-up process many, many times across all corners of the internet, it’s quick and relatively painless.

Let’s use Dropbox as an example. Once you’re signed in on the web on your desktop, click the ID icon in the upper right corner. From there, go to Settings, then Security. Toggle on Two-step verification, then head to Edit, under Preferred Method. Click Use a mobile app, and you’ll see a QR code. Tap Add Account on Authy, point your smartphone at the screen, and congrats! Your Dropbox account is locked down tight.

Now onto the rest: Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Evernote, and on and on. Each uses slightly different wording for its menus, but go to the settings and click on words like “privacy” and “security” until you find the available two-factor options.

If you’re using Google Authenticator, that’s basically all you need to know. And to be absolutely clear, that no-frills approach works great for most people. If you want more features, though, you can take some extra steps with Authy.

For instance! Go to Settings and tap Accounts, then toggle on Authenticator Backups if you want to create encrypted backups in the cloud. The extra cautious may prefer to keep their codes on a single device, but the cloud backup makes it possible to use Authy on more than just your smartphone—there’s even a Chrome extension—and also makes switching to a phone much more seamless.

Speaking of which, to add more devices to your Authy account, go to Settings, then Devices, and tap Allow Multi-device. From there, you can authenticate whatever else you need. Authy also lets you protect the app with a 4-digit PIN, to keep people from accessing your tokens even if they steal your device.

One more miscellaneous tip: The services that offer two-factor will also generally offer one-time use backup codes. Print these out, especially if you’re traveling, and keep them in a safe place. If for whatever reason you can’t access your app or an SMS, it’s your last, best bet to keep from getting locked out of your account.

The 2FA Spectrum

Using an authenticator app for two-factor beats SMS, but it’s still not the absolute most secure way to go. To lock even your online accounts down even further, consider stepping up to a YubiKey, which adds a hardware layer of protection. (You can get a free YubiKey 4 with a new WIRED subscription.) If you’re an activist, journalist, or other potential target of attacks, Google Advanced Protection is the most secure option around.

As with so many things, it’s a matter of balancing security and convenience. But for most people, the few minutes it takes to set up an authenticator app are more than worth the benefit over sticking with SMS—especially once Instagram and other stragglers get around to offering it.


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South Korea regulator flags better deal for cryptocurrency industry
February 21, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

SEOUL (Reuters) – A better deal for South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry might be in the offing as the market regulator changes tack from its tough stance on the virtual coin trade, promising instead to help promote blockchain technology.

The regulator said on Tuesday that it hopes to see South Korea – which has become a hub for cryptocurrency trade – normalize the virtual coin business in a self-regulatory environment.

“The whole world is now framing the outline (for cryptocurrency) and therefore (the government) should rather work more on normalization than increasing regulation,” said Choe Heung-sik, chief of South Korea’s Finance Supervisory Service (FSS), told reporters.

The latest news suggests authorities might adopt a lighter regulatory touch, a step change from the justice minister’s warnings in January that the government was considering shutting down local cryptocurrency exchanges, throwing the market into turmoil.

FSS has been leading the government’s regulation of cryptocurrency trading as part of a task force.

Cryptocurrency operators see Choe’s comments as positive step for the industry’s plans for self-regulation.

“Though the government and the industry have not yet reached a full agreement, the fact that the regulator himself made clear the government’s stance on co-operation is a positive sign for the markets,” said Kim Haw-joon of the Korea Blockchain Association.

South Korea banned the use of anonymous bank accounts for virtual coin trading as of January 30 to stop cryptocurrencies being used in money laundering and other crimes.

Three local banks including Shinhan Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, NH Bank, are currently offering cryptocurrency accounts to around five local virtual coin exchanges.

Choe said that Kookmin Bank and KEB Hana Bank may have also put in place an appropriate system, though they haven’t as yet started handling transactions.

“I hope they (the banks) no longer fear authorities once they have the right system,” Choe added.

An official from FSS told Reuters tough regulatory oversight of illegal trade in cryptocurrencies will remain in place.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP, the world’s most heavily traded cryptocurrency, is now changing hands at a three-week high of $ 11,160 on the Luxembourg-based Biststamp exchange after falling as low as $ 5,920.72 in early February.

South Korean electronics giant Samsung has already started production of cryptocurrency mining technologies, local media reported in January.

Reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer & Shri Navaratnam

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iPhone Battery Scandal: Apple Had Way Better Options Than Slowing Down Your Phone
December 22, 2017 12:55 am|Comments (0)

On Wednesday, Apple confirmed what many customers have long suspected: The company has been slowing the performance of older iPhones. Apple says it started the practice a year ago, to compensate for battery degradation, rather than push people to upgrade their smartphones faster. But even giving that benefit of the doubt, there are plenty of better ways Apple could have accomplished the same goal without betraying customer trust.

Earlier this week, John Poole, a developer at Geekbench, published a blog post indicating that a change in iOS is slowing down performance on older devices. According to Apple, factors like low charge, cold climates, and natural battery degradation can all affect the performance of its mobile devices, and the company confirmed that this policy was implemented last year to counteract these effects.

As much sense as that explanation may make, Apple could have made plenty of choices that would have benefited consumers instead of penalizing them. These same choices could have also saved the company from the public shaming it suffered this week.

Fresh Juice

In a statement to WIRED, Apple confirmed Poole’s findings, saying it was purposely slowing down older iPhones to compensate for the effects of age on their batteries. “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” the company says.

While many have speculated that the company has been doing this for years, Apple says the feature was implemented last year for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone SE. Now, with iOS 11.2, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are getting the same treatment, and the company intends to bring other devices into the fold down the road.

Rather than secretly hamstring the iPhone’s CPU, though, Apple could have simply educated users about the limitations of lithium-ion batteries, says Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a company that sells repair kits and posts repair guides for consumer electronics. While Apple does say in the iPhone user manual that batteries degrade over time and should be replaced, you’d have to dig through a few links outside of the manual to learn that by 500 charge cycles, your phone’s battery will hold a charge of about 80 percent.

Another tactic Apple could employ is selling battery replacement kits to consumers, letting them pop a fresh battery into their aging iPhone. It would be an easily understandable solution to an easily understandable problem, rather than software manipulation that feeds into a long-running, planned obsolescence conspiracy theory. But Apple has actively fought against laws that would require it to provide a way for users to repair their devices. According to a report from HuffPost, Apple argues that allowing consumers to replace the battery could make the iPhone more vulnerable to hacks, and that letting people peek inside would make the iPhone easier to counterfeit.

“Apple won’t sell batteries to consumers, people should be furious about that,” Wiens says. “Your battery is a maintenance item, and everyone should expect to replace their battery fairly frequently.”

Apple does cover one battery replacement under its one-year warranty program, but only for “defective batteries,” a term that isn’t clearly defined on the company’s site. If your phone is out of warranty and you don’t have an AppleCare+ plan, the company offers a battery replacement for $ 79 plus a $ 6.95 shipping charge. The problem, Wiens says, is that Apple doesn’t advertise this policy to consumers, leaving iPhone users to believe that the only solution is to buy a costly iPhone.

Choices Choices

Direct battery fixes certainly would have made the most sense. But even allowing that a software tweak was the only way Apple could have proceeded—untrue, but just for argument’s sake—it had a much better option than making its software solution covert.

Rather than quietly push out an update that crimped older iPhones, it should have made that throttling opt-in. As it stands, there’s no way to avoid having your phone slowed down once the battery reaches its limits. By giving users the choice, and giving them the information necessary to make their own decision, Apple could avoid the frustrations many have expressed over the policy.

While making the throttling opt-in could cause performance issues for users who opt-out, it would give users a sense of control over the situation and avoid making them feel like they’re being tricked into buying a new phone. As it stands, Apple’s move comes off as deceptive.

Instead of leaving users confused about why their phones are suddenly slowing to a crawl, Apple could take user education a step further by providing a battery health monitor in the Settings app. That way, an iPhone owner could figure out if the battery is the issue, or if something else is going on.

Lay Down the Law

The damage, unfortunately, is already done. But it’s also unlikely that Apple will behave differently going forward. At the very least, the company almost certainly won’t shift gears and start selling battery replacement kits to consumers. For starters, the iPhone’s casing uses proprietary Pentalobe screws, which make it hard for average users to get inside to swap the battery.

Apple has also lobbied against right-to-repair legislation, which would allow third-party repair shops and typical consumers to more easily fix their broken phones. Proposed right-to-repair laws typically require companies to publish their repair manuals, as well as make the necessary repair tools available for purchase rather than requiring a specialist to make these repairs.

Wiens says that, ideally, right-to-repair legislation would pass and ensure consumers have the ability to fix their devices on their own terms without having to deal with warranties or acquire difficult-to-find tools.

Apple’s throttling is misleading, and it’s far from the best way the company could have handled the situation. Still, lithium-ion batteries are riddled with problems users should be aware of. The company isn’t likely to change its stance on the matter, but if you’ve noticed your iPhone getting slower over the last year, at least you know it wasn’t all in your head—and that a battery fix might bring your iPhone back up to speed.

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Toshiba shares gain after Western Digital offers to exit chip bid for better JV terms
September 6, 2017 12:43 am|Comments (0)

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toshiba shares rose 3 percent in early trade on Wednesday after sources told Reuters that Western Digital Corp has offered to drop out of a group bidding for its flash memory chip business to take a stronger position in their joint venture instead.

The move could see Toshiba finally seal a deal to sell the chip business after months of delays, providing it with the funds needed to cover billions of dollars in liabilities arising from the failure of U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse.

Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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4 Simple Steps to Write a Better Professional Bio
August 29, 2017 2:00 pm|Comments (0)

I make my living as a writer. Yet, every single time I’m asked to submit a professional bio for something, I end up tearing my hair out.

You too? It’s tough. Summarizing yourself in a few concise sentences — that still manage to pack a punch, no less — presents a unique challenge that’s usually enough to have you staring slack-jawed at that blinking text cursor. Plus, writing in the third person can be just plain awkward.

But, after having to scribble out my fair share of bio attempts, I think that I’ve finally landed on a formula that helps me quickly pull something together that’s impactful, memorable, and — perhaps most importantly — easy.

1. Start with what you do.

This part’s obvious. Any sort of professional bio or elevator pitch won’t bury the lead — it’ll start by explicitly stating who you are and what you do.

While it can be tempting to rely on buzzwords or flowery language to add some extra interest to your bio, a better strategy is to explain your role in as clear of terms as possible. Remember that your bio is a piece of your brand and reputation, so you don’t want any doubt that it’s sending the right message.

If necessary, your opening sentence is also a great place to touch on your geographic location, if that’s important or relevant.

What This Looks Like: “Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer specializing in career and self-development advice.”

2. Explain why you do it.

Typically, saying what you do isn’t quite enough to provide the whole picture. The very purpose of your bio is to give people a greater understanding of who you are, and that typically goes beyond the basics.

One way that you can do this — without going way beyond the character constraints of a notoriously short bio — is to talk about what drew you to that particular position or career field.

In addition to what inspired your career, you can also go one step further and discuss not only what you do, but also who you do it for. Everybody has a target customer or audience, and sharing yours can bring some much-needed clarity.

What This Looks Like: “After discovering a love of writing at an early age, she soon realized that brands and businesses could use the content she loved creating to engage and enlighten their own audiences.”

3. Touch on your most notable accomplishments.

Of course, you want your bio to be impressive — which means it’s the perfect place to pull out some of your most noteworthy accomplishments.

Whether it’s an award or recognition you received, a certification or degree you obtained, or something else entirely, dedicate one sentence of your bio to touting a few of the amazing things you’ve achieved.

What This Looks Like: “Today, her work has been published by numerous notable publications, including Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, Business Insider, TIME, and many others.”

4. Add a little personality.

In most cases, your bio needs to be professional. However, that doesn’t mean that it needs to be stiff and cold.

People reading your bio are interested in learning more about you as a professional, yes. But, they’re also curious about you as a whole person.

So, don’t be afraid to inject a little personality and touch on a few of the things you like to do when you aren’t accomplishing big things in your career. It serves to make your bio a little less formal, and a little more personable.

What This Looks Like: “When she’s not hard at work on her next article, Kat enjoys reading, kayaking, golfing, baking, and spoiling her rescued terrier mutt.”

There you have it. Put those pieces together in order, and you’ll have a concise and impactful bio to use — with little stress required.

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10 new Android O features that will make your phone better
July 30, 2017 9:05 am|Comments (0)

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Though we got out first peek at Android O back in March, Google finally revealed  more details this week at its I/O developers conference about the soon-to-drop version of Android.

Though we’re still quite a ways away from the official release, we now a lot more about the update. At first glance, many of the new changes are subtle, building on updates Google introduced last year with Nougat. (Yes, it’s another boring year for Android.)

Still, there are quite a few features to look forward to, here’s what’s caught our eye so far. Read more…

More about Tech, Google, Android, Apps And Software, and Android O


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Dridex: First banking Trojan with AtomBombing to better evade detection
April 2, 2017 7:20 pm|Comments (0)

The Dridex Trojan, one of the most destructive banking Trojans, has been upgraded with a new injection method so the malware is even better at evading detection.

The newest version of Dridex, v4, is now the first banking Trojan to take advantage of AtomBombing, according to report by IBM X-Force. Unlike some of the more common code injection techniques, AtomBombing is meant to evade security solutions. Once one organized cybercrime gang successfully pulls off a slick trick, other cyber thugs are expected to adopt the method.

“In this release,” the researchers wrote, “we noted that special attention was given to dodging antivirus (AV) products and hindering research by adopting a series of enhanced anti-research and anti-AV capabilities.”

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Better health care through the cloud? Don't count on it
February 21, 2017 1:10 pm|Comments (0)

According to market researcher Technavio, the global health care cloud computing market will grow more than 21 percent from 2017 to 2021.


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DreamHost launches its Remixer website builder to better compete with Squarespace, Wix and …
February 7, 2017 6:15 pm|Comments (0)

While you probably know DreamHost for its hosting services, the company has also long played a major role in the OpenStack ecosystem. OpenStack …


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