Archive for June 13, 2017

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses 10 Questions Any User Should Ask Before Signing Up For A VPN Service

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 13, 2017 by itnerd

NordVPN (Virtual Private Network) has seen its users growing steadily in 2017, reflecting the global tendency of Internet users looking for ways to protect their privacy. For example, NordVPN’s user inquiries from the USA doubled in 2017, following the presidential election, and especially after the new regulation, allowing ISPs to track and sell user activity without their consent.

By using a VPN, one’s Internet traffic gets encrypted and routed through a secure tunnel between two points: the computer and a remote VPN server. This way, no one can access the data that passes through the tunnel – it becomes completely invisible to ISPs, government snoopers, advertisers, identity thieves and hackers.

However, not all VPNs are equal, and some might pose additional security risks to the user. Others might be located in countries that have anti-privacy laws – or they might be collecting user data and selling it to third parties. Also, Internet users should be aware of proxies that hide one’s IP address like VPNs but do not encrypt Internet traffic.

NordVPN lists 10 questions that an Internet user should ask themselves before choosing a VPN service provider:

  1. Does a VPN log Internet traffic? Some VPN providers might be required by law to log a user’s Internet activity, and this depends on the country where they operate. Be aware of VPN service providers based in one of 14 Eyes or 5 Eyes countries, where government often practices surveillance and might require VPNs to provide user logs. When user information is logged, it could be easily shared with the government or any third parties. The safest choice is a VPN provider that does not log users’ Internet activity and is not required to do so by law of the country where it operates.
  2. Is it a free VPN? Any VPN provider that is offering a free service will be using other ways to earn money – and it’s usually through selling user data. A safe VPN will have a price.
  3. In how many countries does it have servers? The more servers a VPN has in different countries, the better it is. If a user wants to bypass geo-blocks on certain content, they can connect to a server – called exit node – in a country where that content is allowed. For those concerned about government surveillance and privacy, it’s wise to pick a server outside of the country.
  4. Does it slow down Internet traffic? Since VPN works as an encryption tunnel, it can sometimes slow down the Internet. If a VPN provider is a paid service, they will usually offer larger selection of servers to connect to – so when one is overloaded and slow, it’s easy to connect to another one.  Connecting to a server that’s closer geographically might solve the slowdown issue.
  5. What level of encryption does it offer? VPN protocols operate to establish a secure tunnel with a VPN. Some of these protocols are more secure than others. It would be wise to avoid PPTP protocol, which was one of the first security protocols introduced – however, it is now considered to be weak and insecure. The safest VPN protocols are OpenVPN and also IKEv2/IPsec, which employs very strong cryptographic algorithms and keys.
  6. Is it a real VPN or a proxy? Proxies might be useful for streaming geo-blocked content, but not in each case. Additionally, any entity – such as an ISP, a government, or a hacker – can access users’ data despite the proxy. Also, certain Flash or JavaScript elements in a user’s browser can easily reveal their identity. Moreover, a proxy is only configured for a certain application, such as a web browser, but is not installed computer-wide. Those who are not concerned about keeping their Internet traffic safe, and only want to stream a movie, can use proxies. Otherwise, in order to protect security and privacy, a VPN is recommended over a proxy.
  7. Does it have mobile apps? It’s not enough to protect a desktop computer – since mobile devices also contain sensitive and private information, it’s important to protect them too. Before signing up for a certain VPN provider, it’s wise to check out all their mobile apps and to see how easily they operate on mobile devices.
  8. Does it work on different platforms? Not all VPNs work on every platform – some might operate only on Apple devices, for example. A well-established VPN functions across different platforms, including iOS, Mac, Android and Windows.
  9. Does it allow to unblock geo-blocked content? Some VPNs might not be able to unblock popular streaming services, such as Hulu, BBC iPlayer or Netflix. A user should check with the VPN they are considering to make sure they will be able to unblock the content they wish to watch.
  10. Is it easy to use? User experience is an important factor when choosing a VPN. Some might still have clumsy websites and hard-to-find buttons. While VPNs were initially a tool used mostly by early adopters, currently many VPNs have updated their user interfaces and are easy to use by anyone who goes online. For example, NordVPN only requires to turn the ON button. The app can quickly connect a user to the desired destination by simply clicking on the country name, as it automatically selects the quickest server available. The application contains many user-friendly features, including kill switch, detailed server list, access to SmartPlay technology and more.

 

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Calgary’s Beakerhead 2017 Program Announcement

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 13, 2017 by itnerd

This September there will be a new way for visitors and locals to explore Calgary – through a playful tour of city sites bundled up in a Beakerhead experience called Snakes and Ladders. Snakes and Ladders is a flagship feature of the fifth edition of Beakerhead running September 13-17, 2017, and is a Canada 150 project.

This is not a typical board game! It’s a larger-than-life adventure that will take attendees to more than a dozen sites of engineered artworks and interactive experiences, united by a theme: the ups and downs of invention. The snakes and ladders on the map are the guide to different jaunts.

Additional ticketed shows, hands-on workshops, roaming contraptions, theatre performances, and community-created events will explode on streets and in venues across the city – all in the name of smashing up art, science and engineering.

A Sneak Peek at Beakerhead Snakes and Ladders

  • Calgary Municipal Space Station. It was just a matter of time before public transit was extended to the solar system. A group of artists called Humble Wonder is turning the Calgary Tower into the world’s first public transit space station. Yes, virtual reality is involved. Media Launch will happen here on Wednesday, September 14 – Save the Date.
  • Serpent Mother. This is the largest fire-breathing installation at Beakerhead to date – stretching 168 feet long and with 40 pillars of fire.
  • Nest. Tread quietly on 11 Street SE, just around the corner from MacLeod Trail. A giant dragon (or little dragons?) may lurk … It’s impossible to see exactly what’s behind the hoarding but it sure sounds ominous!
  • Impulse. A premiere in western Canada by Montreal artists, Creos; these 15 giant see-saws are equipped with sound and lights and will animate River Walk in East Village.

    Tickets Now on Sale for Select Beakerhead Shows

  • The Ape Inside You (Wednesday, September 13, 2017). Enjoy a hilarious look at the social and behavioral norms of apes with help of a primatologist and improv actors. You might see how primitive you and your friends really are …
  • Science of Cats and Dogs (Thursday, September 14, 2017). An evening at the Bella Concert Hall exploring the ins and outs of our furry friends guided by scientists, musicians, and a bit of animal instinct
  • Seven Wonderers (Friday, September 15, 2017). The world of science and engineering is full of wonder…and wonderers. In fact, some say it holds the greatest adventure stories on earth – in the hands of the right storytellers. This is the third year for this always sold-out show

Beakerhead 2017 will take place in Calgary, Alberta on September 13 – 17. Find preliminary highlights and tickets to select events at http://www.beakerhead.com. Additional events will be added this summer, with the full program released on August 1, 2017.

OpenTable announces 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 13, 2017 by itnerd

Grab your sunglasses and appetites! With patio season in full swing, OpenTable, today announced the 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Canada for 2017. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 515,000 restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 2,000 restaurants in Canada.

The official start of summer is almost here and Canadians can take advantage by indulging at some of the best outdoor dining experiences across the country. From the panoramic views of Grapevine Restaurant & Patio at Gray Monk Estate Winery in Kelowna to the vibrant rooftop of The Chase in Toronto, this second-annual list features outdoor tables from coast-to-coast to suit any occasion. Including restaurants with multiple locations, Ontario has the greatest number of restaurants featured with 44, followed by British Columbia with 27 and Alberta with 16. Québec has eight restaurants recognized, while Manitoba has five. Nova Scotia is also represented on this list.

“Canadian patio season never lasts as long as we want. With this list from OpenTable, locals and tourists can spend less time hunting for the perfect spot to grab a drink or share a meal and more time soaking up the beautiful weather,” said Ziv Schierau, Head of National Accounts for OpenTable Canada. “From West Coast estate wineries to Rocky Mountain retreats and al fresco urban escapes, this list showcases some of the country’s best outdoor dining destinations this summer.”

The 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants list is generated solely from more than 515,000 restaurant reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. All restaurants with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the percentage of reviews for which “great for outdoor dining” was selected as a special feature.

The complete list may also be viewed at https://www.opentable.com/m/best-outdoor-restaurants-in-canada. Diners can also read more about the 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Canada by visiting the OpenTable blog.