Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Prognosis of Digital Literacy Going Forward

Digital-Literacy

As the Digital Era pushes on pass the success of the ubiquitous smartphone to whatever device is next on the horizon. So who’s to blame for this widespread lack of Digital Literacy results?

Is it the mobile industry as a whole? Is it government programs? Is it specific mobile device manufacturers? Or does it actually come down to the individual members of society?

Digital Literacy is effecting you and everyone in society at this very moment, to some degree. Just as mobile technology changed the very fabric of our daily lives so will Digital Literacy.

Technological Unemployment

Technological change doesn’t have to increase overall unemployment, even though some types of workers may temporarily lose their jobs.

For example, in 1800, the majority of British workers were employed in agriculture. Labor saving technology meant that food could be produced with less workers and so some agricultural laborers lost their jobs as farms used more machines.

However, as jobs were lost in agriculture, new jobs were created in producing machines.

Similarly, advances in computers and robots meant that firms could produce manufactured goods with fewer workers. The increased productivity in manufactured goods meant that the relative cost fell, giving more opportunities for people to work in the service sector.

Healthcare

Between 2010 and 2050, the senior population is expected to reach 88.5 million, or 20 percent of the U.S. population, greatly increasing the need for senior care.  Home health care will then become an even more significant element of the continuum of care.

The same technologies that revolutionized the commerce, transportation, and finance industries are bearing down on the $3 trillion healthcare industry, promising to simultaneously improve care while reducing costs. The scope of revolutionary technologies includes diagnostics and monitoring, wearable devices, telehealth, medical modeling, smart devices, data management, tracking and delivery, and much more.

But innovators won’t find the solutions without completely understanding the problem.

Hacking

We may have a new ally against the treat of hacking.  Watson, IBM's computer brain, has a lot of talents. It mastered "Jeopardy!," it cooks, plays chess, and even tries to cure cancer. But now, it’s training for a new challenge: Hunting hackers.

On Tuesday, IBM Security announced a new cloud-based version of the cognitive technology, dubbed “Watson for Cybersecurity.” In the fall, IBM will be partnering with eight universities to help get Watson up to speed by flooding it with security reports and data. If successful, the Digital Era would simply blossom.

Terrorism

Technology has proved to be a double-edge sword in the war on terror. Though it has aided the security forces in detecting and thwarting terrorist operations, it has, at the same time, helped terrorists wreak their evil handiwork. The fact is, to be effective terrorists must be digitally literate. A trait society must gain in order to identify and protect itself.

There are some things in life that one should be proactive about, the new entry in this list is Digital Literacy. This isn’t something you can refer to as “Just like riding a bike”, oh no, this requires continuous learning. For those that consider themselves tech-savvy today, may not be tomorrow.

What you know today, may be obsolete tomorrow (along with you!).

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Top 5 WordPress Blog Enhancement Plugins

Wordpress-Blog-Plugins

Bloggers who use WordPress, beginners or pros alike, always face one question - what are the best plugins to use to optimize the performance of your website? WordPress has over 40,000 plugins - most free and some premium so it’s understandable that the choices can be endless and as a result, confusing. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all plugins are reliable or even that good.

Some can actually slow down your website, while others create conflicts with other plugins. If you’re not that well-versed with WordPress or are a complete beginner, you can spend the whole day just configuring one plugin and still find that it doesn’t function the way it is supposed to.

Under such circumstances, it becomes essential for you as a blogger to know what plugins will be most efficient for you. One way you can go about doing this is trying and testing out a variety of plugins - but not everyone has that kind of time or even expertise. So here is a list of 5 plugins that you as a blogger should use to optimize your experience with WordPress and blog away without any worries

Wordfence Security

As the name suggests, WordFence is a security plugin. Fairly basic in nature, it works by adding another layer of security, thus preventing people or bots who might try to hack into your website. It can even block bots by blocking the IP addresses they use to try to access your site. The plugin has been downloaded and is currently actively installed by one million plus users and is the most downloaded security plugin on WordPress. WordFence will also let you know quickly if your website has been compromised. While the plugin is free, there is a premium service that allows you to block specific countries, audit passwords, schedule scans and also check whether your IP address is being used to Spamvertised. In addition, you can also avail of tech support in case of any glitches.

VaultPress

It is extremely important for every blogger to have backups of his or her blogs. It is equally important that these backups be located off-site but still be secure. There is a reason the term ‘human error’ exists and you never know when years of hard work can just disappear in an instant. This is where VaultPress comes in. It backs up and secures everything on a site such as posts, comments, all uploads, Meta data, users, themes and even databases. The plugin is a Premium feature with different plans for different budgets and needs. It has over 20,000 active installs. The best part is that it can restore whatever you have lost in just two clicks.

Yoast SEO

This plugin needs no introduction. It is on every top 5, top 10, top 15 list of the best WordPress plugins for a very simple reason - it is the best SEO plugin out there. It helps you write better and more SEO friendly content and even shows you a snippet of what your post looks like in search results. It lets you know if the title of your blog is of the optimal length and even whether the description you’ve written helps improve the ranking of the page in search results. It makes you choose a focus keyword and ensures that you use that keyword as much as possible. In addition, it also analyses your page for things such as whether you have written a meta description, whether your post length is long enough, whether the images in your post contain the focus keyword and so on. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Frizzly

One thing that is absolutely essential to ensure the success of any blog is that it is shared on social media. Obviously, you need the appropriate buttons for the same. However, too many buttons and you have confused users who will be too overwhelmed by the choices of social media to share anything. If you’re just starting out or you want to keep it basic and simple, Frizzly is the plugin for you. It adds three buttons - Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to images on your post. Whenever anyone hovers over the image, the buttons come up encouraging the reader to share.

Disqus

As any blogger knows, one of the primary needs on your site is a comment box. It allows readers to express how they feel about what you have written and share their opinions with others. Disqus Comment System does just that. It allows comments to be more interactive and connects commenters and websites. The popularity of the plugin can be seen by the fact that it currently has 200,000 plus active installs. It is SEO-friendly, which means that the comments can be indexed by search engines, allows you to import existing comments and even backs up the comments. Comments and their replies can be viewed as threads. You also receive email notifications. It filters out spam and has some optimal admin tools. It even shows you aggregated comments.

Security firm Sucuri says that, during the first three months of 2016, the company saw a large number of attacks targeting websites running on the WordPress CMS platform. The company released yesterday its first-ever Website Hacked Report, in which it compiled statistics from over 11,485 compromised sites it was called upon to investigate.

Nearly four in five hacked websites were running WordPress. More precisely, Sucuri reveals that 78 percent of the total number of hacked websites it investigated were WordPress sites, with Joomla in a distant second, taking up only 14 percent of the data sample. Further, six percent were no-CMS websites, 5 percent were running Magento, and 2 percent were using Drupal.

Read Article (William Morrow | huffingtonpost.com | 05/28/2016)

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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US Nuclear Arsenal Controlled by 1970s Computers

1970s-Computers

Government Accountability Office report details ‘museum-ready’ machines which are still controlling nuclear force messaging system that is ‘obsolete’. The US military’s nuclear arsenal is controlled by computers built in the 1970s that still use 8in floppy disks.

A report into the state of the US government, released by congressional investigators, has revealed that the country is spending around $60bn (£40.8bn) to maintain museum-ready computers, which many technical staff members do not even know how to operate, as their creators retire and no updates put in place.

The Defense Department’s Strategic Automated Command and Control System (DDSACCS), which is used to send and receive emergency action messages to US nuclear forces, runs on a 1970s IBM computing platform. It still uses 8in floppy disks to store data.

We’re not even talking the more modern 3.5in floppy disk that millennials might only know as the save icon. We’re talking the OG 8in floppy, which was a large floppy square with a magnetic disk inside it. They became commercially available in 1971, but were replaced by the 5¼in floppy in 1976, and by the more familiar hard plastic 3.5in floppy in 1982.

Shockingly, the US Government Accountability Office said: “Replacement parts for the system are difficult to find because they are now so obsolete.”

The Pentagon said it was instigating a full replacement of the ancient machines and while the entire upgrade will take longer, the crucial floppy disks should be gone by the end of next year.

Given that magnetic media has a finite shelf life, and that disks and the drives needed to read and write to them are older than some of the operators of the machinery, the floppy revelation makes you wonder whether the US could even launch a nuclear attack if required. An “error, data corrupted” message could literally mean ‘life or death’.

Read Article (Hal90210 | theguardian.com | 05/26/2016)

OMG, this is the most embarrassing post I’ve ever made. To think, in this 2016 Digital Era any portion of our Nuclear capability being managed like this is unthinkable.

Please support our campaign so we can offer webinars for our government officials.

And everyone must realize that Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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ACLU Joins Microsoft in Suit Against the DOJ

Suit-Against-DOJ

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft got an ally in its lawsuit against the Justice Department Thursday. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a motion to join Microsoft’s effort to challenge DOJ gag orders that prevent the tech company from telling customers when the government has ordered it to turn over data.

The ACLU is a Microsoft customer. Microsoft filed its lawsuit in April, one of a number of legal challenges the Redmond, Wash., company has mounted against growing law enforcement requests for its cloud-based consumer data.

“A basic promise of our Constitution is that the government must notify you at some point when it searches or seizes your private information,” said Alex Abdo, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “Notice serves as a crucial check on executive power, and it has been a regular and constitutionally required feature of searches and seizures since the nation’s founding.”

Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy said the company "appreciates the support from the ACLU and many others in the business, legal and policy communities who are concerned about secrecy becoming the norm rather than the exception.”

Requests from law enforcement agencies for access to users' personal information routinely flood tech companies that store vast amounts of data in the cloud. Massive data centers run by Microsoft, Amazon and other big tech companies allow businesses and individuals to access email, photos and other content from multiple devices, wherever they are.

Law enforcement officials say that access to such data is critical to fighting crime and terrorism. Using the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the U.S. government is increasingly targeting such data, according to Microsoft, which says the government has mandated secrecy in 2,576 instances over the past 18 months. People would know if the government went through their filing cabinet or their hard drive, but are unaware when their privacy in the cloud is intruded upon, they argue.

The 1986 law was written before the Web was born and long before Americans started sending, receiving and storing so much of their personal communications and documents on the Internet.

Microsoft alleges the Electronic Communications Privacy Act violates users' Fourth Amendment right that a search be reasonable and Microsoft's First Amendment right to talk to its users.

"Notably and even surprisingly, 1,752 of these secrecy orders, or 68% of the total, contained no fixed end date at all. This means that we effectively are prohibited forever from telling our customers that the government has obtained their data," Microsoft chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote in an April blog post when the suit was announced.

Tech companies increasingly are being drawn into legal battles with federal agencies over access to consumer information. A broad swath of major technology names filed amicus briefs on behalf of Apple during the iPhone maker's protracted battle with the FBI earlier this year over access to the smartphone used by one of the San Bernardino killers.

Read Article (Marco della Cava | usatoday.com | 05/26/2016)

Today Microsoft is fighting a battle to protect your digital privacy, tomorrow you may need to fight your own battle to protect your digital privacy. But only if you realize it’s been hacked and only if you know what you are talking about.

By now you should have some idea of what we are about, if not read our about page. But our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing digital literacy and how to fully use devices that connect to the Internet and the Internet itself.

The digital industry is not going to provide this type of effective solution. Join the cause and donate to our startup today, let’s make it real. By helping those around you, you are really helping yourself in the long run.

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Internet Access Not Technical but Civil Rights Issue

Civil-Rights-Issue

In major metropolitan areas across the U.S., unequal access to the Internet is cutting some people off from a better future. Many are also cut-off from learning how to fully utilize this marvel of the digital era. Citizens on the wrong side of the digital gap are losing out on economic, educational and social opportunities.

It’s not just a technical problem for the 21st century. “This is a civil rights issue,” said Bill Callahan, director of Connect Your Community.

“Low-income people, people with less than a high school education and older people are the groups in any population who are least likely to have an Internet connection at home,” he said.

Callahan’s group advocates for digital access and literacy in greater Cleveland and Detroit. In those cities — and others from Baltimore to New Orleans, from Miami to Glendale, Arizona — as many as 30 to 40 percent of residents can’t easily get online, according to 2013 data.

Rural areas have a fairly well-known set of digital access problems that include high cost and sluggish speeds due to the lack of broadband infrastructure. But in suburban and metro areas, libraries are typically cited as the saving grace for residents who lack online access at home.

That’s not good enough in our wired world. “If the best someone can do is point you to the library, that’s basically ‘separate but equal,’” said Callahan, making a pointed reference to the very argument that the Supreme Court once declared didn’t justify segregated schools.

In Detroit, nearly 40 percent of residents have no Internet service, not even via smartphones. That appalling rate was noted in a recent New York Times story detailing how the lack of access has stymied economic recovery for some people.

Detroit resident Julie Rice told the paper about her struggle to network, complete training videos and fill out online job applications with her limited connectivity. “I’ve come to believe Internet is a human right,” Rice said. “It’s clearly a huge disadvantage if you don’t have it.”

Underscoring the importance of universal access, the Federal Communications Commission last year declared that broadband service is a public utility akin to electricity or telephone service.

In all but the most rural areas, the problem isn’t a lack of infrastructure, said Callahan. As with so many other civil rights issues, the problem is economics. “The idea that you can’t get Internet connection in a city because there’s no Internet available is almost never true,” he said. “People can get AT&T DSL in their homes any place in Detroit — they just can’t afford it.”

Without the Internet, poor people can be stuck on the wrong side of the door to opportunity. “The 40-year-old guy who can’t apply for a job now because he can’t get online would have no problem 10 years ago,” Callahan said. “He can still do the job. All that’s changed is the system to get the job.”

This hypothetical man all too often gets blamed for not being employed. Yet Callahan said, “This is not a failure on his part.”

Robert Shimkoski of the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, which helps connect jobseekers with employers in that city, said a lack of Internet access can trap low-income people in a vicious cycle.

“It’s increasingly difficult to find an employer who will take a physical application over an online app,” Shimkoski said. “And if you can’t get online, you can’t get the resources to understand where you can go to get that connection to help.”

Callahan said Internet access rates have remained largely the same in the two years since the U.S. Census Bureau last released figures. But the digital divide keeps getting wider, he said, as more systems across every industry — from health care to education — go completely online.

For example, Callahan cited a major change to the GED that went into effect in 2014. In theory, the second chance at a high school diploma can be a lifeline for struggling Americans. But now, he said, “All GED testing is in a computerized environment, though not online. Most of the models by which you can prepare depend on having access to online resources.” (And you must know how to use these resources.)

The shift to digital is one of the reasons, Callahan argued, that the success rate for GED candidates in Cleveland — where more than 33 percent of residents lack Internet access — plummeted by an estimated 85 percent that year.

“[Digitalizing systems] is progressing very quickly, and they’re essentially being put in a walled village, and you need to pay to get past it,” Callahan said. “And no one is willing to spend money to help the people on the outside get in.” Ensuring that there are community access points, like libraries and technology hubs, is important, but ultimately they’re no substitute for reliable Internet at home.

Callahan and Shimkoski are both optimistic about pilot programs from Comcast and AT&T that provide basic broadband access — and in some cases web training and low-cost laptops — to low-income residents.

Comcast in 2011 began the Comcast Essentials program to offer Internet access (without setup fees or contracts) to families who have at least one child who qualifies for the National School Lunch Program. The company’s most recent report indicated that more than 17,000 residents had taken advantage of the program in Detroit.

AT&T launched a similar program last month. It dropped the price to as little as $5 a month and widened the pool of eligibility to anyone in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. But CNN reports that Internet access under the AT&T program is at speeds considered below the threshold of broadband and there are data caps.

Still, Callahan said the programs are a digital step in the right direction.

Read Article (Kim Bellware | huffingtonpost.com | 05/23/2016)

The plan is simple but effective; Currently they are quickly Digitizing Systems, while there is a push to connect everyone to the Internet. By the time everyone is connected to a reliable Internet, not much will change because they will not be proficient enough in its usage. Therefore, they will blame the individuals for not striving enough towards improving their own wellbeing.

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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