Bridging the Digital Divide: Female Style


Having recently been named one of the Top 30 Female Internet Entrepreneurs, I am continually intrigued by women who are self-proclaimed geeks ;-) and women who are actually making a difference in the high-tech world. One of my favorite journalists on this matter is Kim Hart of The Washington Post. In her article "Up-and-Comers Who Are Breaking Down a Digital Divide" she explains that you often hear people referring to a tech start-up as just "two guys in a garage." But that phrase excludes a gender that is too often overlooked in the technology industry. The fact is a number of women are leaving their mark as entrepreneurs, big corporate front runners, social media enthusiasts, and government policy experts. Even if she happens to start her business from the kitchen table.

Those of us who have established ourselves as influential figures all agree, we want to make room for more girl geeks! Most women in technology admit they were never encouraged to be interested in computers or programming but in the 21st century, that is changing. One area of growth is social media because it is a tech industry that is natural for women. Social media is all about communicating and women's communication skills are great assets.

Whether women entrepreneurs are expanding the reach of social networks among associations, educational institutions and government groups, or whether they're founding nonprofits to provide training for women and helping communities take advantage of tools such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter to organize events, respond to issues, and spread information, it is clear that we are growing the female faction within the tech community (even though there is still a huge digital divide that adversely affects women, especially minority women). However, the verdict is in: There's something very optimistic about what's going on right now. And since more women are spending more time online, career opportunities in the online world are growing. As my Mom (a successful entrepreneur herself) always said, "Don't be afraid to take a risk and make an impact. Find the work that fulfills and satisfies you and that in itself is part of the reward." Spoken like a true woman.
DGYF,
Erin



Word Up: Teens Don't Twitter


A research report by a 15-year-old intern at Morgan Stanley's London office "has generated a flurry of interest from media executives and investors," according to Julia Kollewe in the London Guardian, as seen in The Week.

Matthew Robson's report on teens' use of social media says flatly that "teenagers do not use Twitter" and that they regard online advertising as "extremely annoying and pointless." Traditional media, including television, radio and newspapers, is losing ground to new media.

The report has led some prominent media investors to question the business model for such social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter, which rely heavily on online advertising. Well it's about time. Note to media: keep it real. See also: digital native, generation y, twinternship, and read the full article here.

DBEYR,
Erin

Short + URLs = Big Trouble


Anyone who Twitters knows the value of short URLs. But unfortunately, as is the case with email, spammers intent on spreading malware are now using the shortened URLs to spread viruses.

According to David Needle at InternetNews.com, the security firm MessageLabs reported this week that there are many reasons to be careful about clicking on short URLs or forwarding them blindly to others.

Let's review for a moment: What have I told you is the most important thing to NEVER do? Answer: Never click on a link in an email! Why? Because it could look like a bona fide link from a bank, for example, but actually launch a virus on your computer, or take you to a fake phishing site. It is simply safer (and almost as easy) to copy-and-paste the URL into your browser in order to view the content. This is known as a best practice (which I finally convinced my Mom to do ;-)

However, due to shortened URLs, this best practice has been thwarted on social networking sites and now the problem of spreading viruses via links is confounded because many of these short URLs used in microblogging sites such as Twitter, do not reveal the end destination. While it is a well known fact that many sites have updated their lists of bad addresses to block, URL shortening provides a way to get around those blocks.

"Generally there's nothing wrong with using these URL shortening services, but when you see a list of sites on Twitter, for example, with the short URLs under a hot topic, a lot of those are actually spam," Matt Sargent of MessageLabs told InternetNews.com. "But lots of people retweet them without clicking first to see what they are so they're actually spreading spam without realizing it." MessageLabs, a division of Symantec, identified Donbot as one of the major culprits. Donbot is a botnet responsible for sending approximately five billion spam messages every day!

Face it, experts agree there will always be spammers :-( and now the bad guys are exploiting popular consumer resources like Twitter and Facebook. This is why it's up to you! You must stay up-to-date on this kind of news and be vigilant in protecting yourself (and your computer and your data) as you go forth and explore the new worlds of the Web. NetLingo is here to help! We want you to learn about best practices like these so you can stay safe along the way and enjoy your online world.
GNBLFY,
Erin

I'm So Over Microsoft: Here's to Going Mac


The Associated Press reported on Monday that Microsoft took the rare step of warning everyone about a serious computer security vulnerability… it hasn't fixed yet. Normally I see these kinds of announcements and make a mental note to keep my anti-virus program active and working, but this one struck me as important so I kept reading. Turns out, it is a vulnerability that affects Internet Explorer users whose computers run on Windows XP operating software. Hello?! Everyone I know who uses a PC still prefers and uses Windows XP including myself… so why are they telling me about a flaw that can allow hackers to remotely take control of my machine just because I visited an infected Web site that's been hacked, and then tell me they haven’t fixed this flaw yet? It made me furious.

Don’t get me wrong, just because I work in this industry and I have to be smarter than the average bear when it comes to understanding technology, doesn’t mean I can’t get as frustrated as the next guy. Not only am I incredibly pissed off at Microsoft for announcing this security breach and then not providing a patch, I’m also incredibly pissed off at Microsoft because in addition to disrupting my home computer, this flaw hacked thousands of websites using Windows Server 2003 server software, which means it could potentially disrupt my professional website and worse yet, make it serve as a catalyst to spread malicious software to others. It’s gone too far.

The most important tip to ensure you don’t get a virus on your computer is never, and I mean NEVER, click on a link in an email especially if it is from someone you don’t know. If it’s from someone you know, hover over it first and see what the tag says that appears in the small window when your cursor rests on top of it (don’t click on it). If it ends with a file name of .exe do not click on it and delete the email immediately (.exe means it is an executable file that will load a program onto your machine). If it looks like a normal URL, at least copy-and-paste it into a browser first to see what appears on the Web page (otherwise the link may lead you to a bogus Web page in an attempt to phish you). Basically clicking on a link in an email is the worst thing you can do. This so-called "zero day" vulnerability is spreading mainly due to people clicking on links in an email. Don’t do it.

Here’s the scoop: I used to work at Microsoft and I know they only issue security updates once a month; if they issue this kind of “security reminder” at any other time, it’s because it’s very serious… and it most likely affects you or someone you know! Unless of course you’re on a Mac. While it is possible for an Apple Macintosh to get a virus, the likelihood of a Mac user getting a virus when compared to a Microsoft Windows user is very little to none. In fact, many Apple Macintosh users don't even run an anti-virus protection program (unless you’re running a virtual PC on your Apple Macintosh, then you need anti-virus protection). I decided enough is enough, I’m making the switch. And you know what? Now that I'm looking through my new rose-colored Mac glasses at the online world, it's fun again! They say once you go Mac, you'll never go back, now I know why.
AP,
Erin