Do You Want to Keep an Eye on Santa Tonight?

Another Christmas is just about upon us and that means Santa arrival is only hours away. With technology of course there are many ways Santa’s journey can be monitored and tracked. But what are your best options if you want to keep an eye on Santa this Christmas eve?

NORAD and Google both have online Santa Trackers this year and you can even watch him on your smartphone, via their apps.

So here’s how the two compare:

Norad Santa Tracker
AppleAndroidWindowsOnline • FREE

NORADSantaTracker

For one day only the nice folks at NORAD, (that’s the North American Aerospace Defence Command), hand over their satellites so the world can watch out for Father Christmas and his pack of reindeer.

The Norad app brings a precise GPS location of Santa and will show you exactly where the jolly fellow is so you can be sure the kids are firmly tucked up in bed.

Both the app and website are packed full of games which should help to stop the kids asking, “how much longer ’til Christmas day?”

There is a free app as well as a $2.99 version which offers additional features.

GOOGLE SANTA TRACKER
AndroidOnline • FREE

google-santa-tracker

Google are also offering the chance to watch out for Santa this year.

The big problem here is that their app is only available to Android phones but the website is full of fun for everyone.

You get treated to a fully interactive festive map and Santa’s dashboard, which features Google Maps’ technology and “sleigh engineering” to follow him on some of his stops.

There is also plenty of Christmas-themed games and videos to keep everyone entertained.

Happy Holidays to all and have an Appy Christmas!

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Cyber Monday Arrives

CyberMonday1We live in the technical age and that means with the holidays of course arrives “Black Friday” which is the day after Thanksgiving. But the shopping adventure no longer ends there. Now we have “Cyber Monday”.

“Cyber Monday” is a marketing term for the Monday after Thanksgiving and was created to help users embrace shopping online. “Cyber Monday” debuted back in 2005 when many shoppers were still a little unsure about the safety of online shopping. This concern for the most part has changed in a very big way since 2005 and online shopping is actually now the preferred way to shop for many.

Did you know that Black Friday originated 53 years ago in Philadelphia (1961) while Cyber Monday originated 44 years later (2005).

Unlike “Black Friday” it can be a little challenging to prepare for Cyber Monday. This is because many stores do not mark their items down until after Black Friday wraps up. For example this year, as a write this Amazon and  Best Buy have yet to announce their Cyber Monday deals. Amazon has promised to post it’s “Cyber Monday” deals by December 1.

Amazon has a special “Cyber Monday” page which you can check out here.

Wallmart has posted there “Cyber Monday” deals and you can check them out here.

Best Buy just like Amazon is waiting until December 1 to post their “Cyber Monday” deals and you can find them here.

Happy shopping this holiday season and if you are looking for good deals online be sure to stay safe and I recommend browsing well established retailers online for the most part and remember, just like in life, “if it sounds to good to be true… it probably is”.

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Staying Safe Shopping Online

HolidayShopping_Laptop-Squared_jpg_280x280_crop_q95As we prepare for the holiday season and with online shopping becoming more popular then ever before this is a good time to think a little bit about online security and protecting yourself while shopping online.

Here are some good tips to help you stay safe online this season.

  • Keep a Clean Machine: All the devices you use for shopping – including smartphones and tablets should have up-to-date software including security software, operating systems, programs and apps.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cyber criminals try compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know who it came from, it is in your best interest to delete the email.
  • Think Before you Act: Be wary of communications that offer amazing deals that sound too good to be true and implore that you to act immediately. this includes that email messages that report a “problem” with an order or payment or that ask you to view the website via a provided link.
Stay Safe Online Santa. Stay Safe.

Stay Safe Online Santa. Stay Safe.

  • Beware Wi-Fi Hotspots:  Don’t share personal or financial information over an unsecured network (a connection that does not require a password). Using the cellular connection is safer than an unsecured wireless network when on your mobile device.
  • Make Sure the Site is Legitimate: This includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with shttp or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured.
  • Protect your Personal Information: Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure the information requested is only what is needed to complete the transaction. Only fill out required fields on checkout forms. Check the website’s privacy policy. Make sure you understand how your information will be stored and used.
  • Use Safe Payment Options: Credit cards are generally the safest option. Avoid using your debit cards.
  • Keep a Paper Trail: Save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of the sale, and copies of email exchanges with the seller. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized charges. If there is a discrepancy, call your bank and report it immediately.

Stay Safe Online and Enjoy the Holidays!

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FBI Issues Holiday Scam Reminder

Watch Out for Bad Santa when online.

This morning, a co-worker, who will remain nameless entered my office asking for help. It seems that after his wife was shopping online this past weekend their email account was compromised and began sending our spam to everyone in their address book. This tale of woe was hopefully resolved by having the victim simply change their email account’s password, but the fix is often not that easy.

So here is more online holiday shopping scam information.

Following on the heals of this fine blog the FBI, this week issued a series of reminders to online shoppers to beware of scams and to use their common sense.

“Scammers use many techniques to defraud consumers, from phishing e-mails offering too good to be true deals on brand-name merchandise to offering quick cash to victims who will re-ship packages to additional destinations. Previously reported scams are still being executed today,” the FBI states.

Here’s a rundown of the FBI’s advice, some are more obvious than others.

Keep a watchful eye on your personal credit information at this time of year for any possible fraudulent activity.

Be careful when receiving online correspondence from banks. Never click on a link embedded in an email from your bank. Rather, open a new webpage and manually enter the URL to avoid getting snagged in a phishing trap.

Stick mainly to reputable online sites. Those unfamiliar to you might be traps designed to swipe your personally identifiable information.

Don’t assume even top search results will take you to a reputable site. Take a close look at the URL (website address) of any site you plan to visit to see if anything looks odd, such as extra characters. Make sure the payment page of any website you use starts with https, not just http.

Don’t respond to unsolicited email (i.e., spam)

Be wary of emails claiming to contain photos in attached files… which could contain viruses.

Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that as for personal info.

Be on the alert if you are requested to act quickly or if there is an emergency that requires your attention, as these could be scams.

Check out US-CERT’s posting on Holiday Season Phishing Scams and Malware Campaigns.

Finally, if it looks too good, it probably is.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at the West Chester Technology Blog to your, our many dedicated readers.
 
Today try to stay off of the smartphones and enjoy your family, friends, football and food!

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