Archive for February 22, 2017

Introducing Evercondo: Improving The Condo Experience Digitally

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

Did you know more than 50% of homes being built in North America are condos? We are increasingly shifting to community-oriented living particularly in cities like Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver. In light of this growth property management is becoming a new market waiting to be disrupted with technology.

One start-up is setting out to improve the community experience by taking the industry from pen-and-paper to digital. Evercondo  is reaching extraordinary success with its easy-to-use web and mobile platform that connects property managers, board members, and tenants to manage requests, increase transparency, and improve efficiency.

The market opportunity is huge – with more than 70-million people living in managed communities in North America. The company, which has grown 300% in the last two years and has established itself in 22 provinces and states managing more than 500 communities, is setting its sight on disrupting this huge market and bringing it into the digital world. 

Evercondo Facts:

  • Adrian Teh built Evercondo for the Malaysian market. Two years ago he re-launched the platform to suit the growing needs of North American communities.
  • With more than 45,000 users across 500 communities, this startup is profitable and has retained 100% of its clients.
  • The company works with leading property management companies and condo boards to improve communication flow with residents, increase transparency, and create operational efficiencies – with up to $9,000 in savings each year.
  • Customers report new levels of tenant satisfaction and higher levels of engagement.

 Here’s a video introduction of Evercondo: 

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Microsoft Releases Patches For Adobe Flash Vulnerability…. Leaves Another One Unpatched

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

There’s some really strange behavior going on in Redmond these days. After not delivering their monthly stack of patches on Patch Tuesday for the first time that I can recall, the company has now released a patch to address a Adobe Flash vulnerability in Windows 8.1 and up as Flash patches are delivered by Microsoft and not Adobe in those operating systems. Specifically this one that I highlighted here last week. But the weird part is that an exploit that is in the wild that I spoke about recently is left unpatched. Seeing as that exploit is the more serious of the two, you’d think that Microsoft would do something about that first or at the same time as released this Adobe Flash fix. But I guess they’re waiting for March to deal with it as they’ve previously announced.

Hopefully, nobody gets pwned by a hacker who exploits this in the meantime.

Europe Still Doesn’t Like The Lack Of Privacy In Windows 10

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

Microsoft has not had a great time with EU regulators and Windows 10, and those issues continue. An Article 29 Working Party which is meant to oversee data security in the EU, has questioned a number of issues with the OS, above and beyond those addressed by the adding features such as the privacy dashboard, which Microsoft introduced after lawsuits from Switzerland were threatened and ultimatums from France were fired out. Reuters has the details:

The watchdogs, a group made up of the EU’s 28 authorities responsible for enforcing data protection law, wrote to Microsoft last year expressing concerns about the default installation settings of Windows 10 and users’ apparent lack of control over the company’s processing of their data.

The group – referred to as the Article 29 Working Party -asked for more explanation of Microsoft’s processing of personal data for various purposes, including advertising.

“In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users’ personal data,” the group said in a statement which also acknowledged Microsoft’s willingness to cooperate.

Microsoft was not immediately available to comment.

All I have to say is that they might want to not only consider addressing these concerns ASAP. The European Union when it comes to this sort of thing aren’t exactly a fun bunch of guys to deal with if you’re on the wrong side of an issue. And that would be really bad for Microsoft. Having said that, one wonders if other countries should be investigating Microsoft’s data collection practices? Clearly if the EU is concerned, so should other jurisdictions.

 

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses The Future Of The Internet

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

When World Wide Web was created in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, its purpose was for the web technology to be available to everyone, always, without any patents or royalties. Recently, as the Internet becomes more and more centralized, the creator of the Internet and other people at its heart start calling for a revolution in order to rethink the way that Internet works.

A lot has happened in the years of Internet’s existence, but the pattern is clear: the tool that was meant to bring profound advance for liberty is too often used by governments and corporations as a means of control. Russia and UK, for example, have passed new intrusive surveillance laws, and China and Vietnam block major websites from their citizens; users are being tracked by corporations and advertisers, and their data is being sold to third parties; Internet giants like Google and Facebook yield big power over the data of all the global Internet users.

Tim Berners-Lee publically speaks against such invasive surveillance laws as UK’s Snoopers Charter.  According to him and other web activists, the only way to give Internet its original purpose is decentralization and encryption. Some of the so-called Web 3.0 projects are already attracting investors with their idea of more privacy and security. 

Decentralization

Blockstack is a startup that is working on open-source software to create a kind of parallel web – one powered by the bitcoin blockchain. It hopes to give users more control of their data by avoiding storage with any third-parties. Later this year, Blockstack is planning to  release a software that will allow surfing this alternative Internet with a regular browser. Its users will generate data by using various services, but the data will not be stored in any of those service databases.

Another example of initiatives aimed at decentralizing the web is MaidSafe, a startup which has spent a decade building a decentralized p2p network, and now allows to create safe websites, store data, host websites and more.

Encryption: today’s solution for Internet security

Web 3.0,  which could be defined as a platform for decentralized apps, might be the future of the Internet, since decentralization idea is gaining popularity among mainstream developer community. Till then, Internet users must be careful about their Internet privacy, and take initiative to implement available encryption tools.

There already are many existing ways to encrypt one’s Internet activities: secure email service providers, such as ProtonMail, or encrypted messaging apps, such as Signal.

One of the must-have encryption services is a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN encrypts all data between a user’s computer and a VPN server into a secure tunnel. It is important to choose a VPN like NordVPN that  doesn’t keep any customer logs, offers secure encryption protocols and advanced security solutions like DoubleVPN. A VPN hides a user’s IP address, disguising the real location, thus giving the user a great layer of protection online from unwanted security threats and/ or surveillance.

At the moment, encryption – be it via encrypted email, messaging or VPN technology – remains the most secure tool available to protect one’s online privacy and security.

Review: Belkin ScreenCare+ Screen Protector For The iPhone 7 Plus

Posted in Products with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

I have only had my iPhone 7 Plus for less than a week, but one thing that I wanted to do right out of the gate is protect the screen. On top of that, I am not a fan of glossy screens as I tend to use my phone in the outdoors where glare can become an issue. The thing with screen protectors is that if you do it yourself, you have to clean the screen perfectly and apply it perfectly or it looks terrible. Seeing as this was a brand new phone, I decided to go another route. I decided to get a ScreenCare+ Screen Protector from Belkin which offers professional and perfect installation at your local Apple Store. By that I mean that Belkin has developed a machine that applies the screen protector perfectly every single time. After they clean it of course. So I handed my phone over to an Apple Specalist who cleaned my phone of dust, smudges and fingerprints and then watched them put the screen protector on using the device that’s in the video below:

The result was a perfectly applied screen protector with no air bubbles or dust underneath it. It was pretty impressive to watch and I have zero complaints about the screen protector. Now in my case, I chose the Anti-Glare model as I wanted to protect the screen and mitigate the glare issue. But Belkin also offers and Invisiglass screen protector that offers better shock protection while still being glossy. So you’ve got a couple of choices depending on what your use case is. In my case, the ScreenCare+ Anti-Glare screen protector cost me $24.95 CDN which included installation. That’s a pretty good price to keep your iPhone’s screen in great conditon. If you buy an iPhone at your local Apple Store, you should really consider having them install one of these before you walk out the door. If you’re an existing owner of a iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus, you should also consider taking a trip to your local Apple Store to get one installed as well.

Review: OtterBox Statement Case For iPhone 7 Plus

Posted in Products with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

I recently became the new owner of an unlocked iPhone 7 Plus. Seeing as it is one of the matte black models, and I use the phone to record my efforts when I cycle, hike or cross country ski, I wanted to protect it from drops and the like. But I also wanted a case that didn’t make the phone any bigger than it was. I recalled that I had previously used the OtterBox Statement Case for the iPhone 6 when I had that phone. So I decided that I’d try the version for the iPhone 7 Plus.

One of the things that I like about this case is that it is thin. The iPhone 7 Plus isn’t a small phone, and having this case on it still allows me to put it in my pocket comfortably. It has a bit of a lip around it that makes sure the screen is less likely to come in contact with whatever surface you put it on if you lay the phone on a table with the screen facing downwards, or if the phone drops and lands screen first. But the main reason why I wanted this case is that it is Drop Plus Certified. Meaning that they test it to make sure it will survive drops and bumps. That’s important when you’ve just shelled out $1200 on a phone. It also has redundant buttons for the volume controls and the power button. The latter I found harder to press which may be a good thing as your phone would be less likely to switch on in your pocket. All of this comes in a very minimalist package which adds to the look of the phone rather than subtracts from it.

The OtterBox Statement Case For iPhone 7 Plus is available from OtterBox directly or from the Apple Store and other retailers. I got mine for $49 CDN. You should seriously consider getting one if you want great protection in a minimalist package.