It’s the new year. Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Was one of them to go to the gym to get fitter and lose that Christmas podge?
Well, your website is not dissimilar. Over the years that you’ve had it, it’s hopefully been updated, edited, had new content added and irrelevant content removed. But is it still contiguous?
When was the last time you went through it,
Page by page,
Link by link to make sure that everything is still working,
Word by Word to ensure all the words still send the right message,
Image by Image to make sure your pictures are fresh, relevant and up to date,
To check that the navigation doesn’t take the visitor to the wrong page – or even worse a 404 error page,
To ensure that everything loads in under 3 seconds,
Checking that your shopping cart (if you have one) still works,
That your shopping cart is easy and logical to use (make a trial process or better still ask somebody unrelated to your business to make a trial purchase)
That the whole transaction process still functions as designed
And it’s really easy to use on a small screen (mobile)?
Oh, and the SEO is still top-notch, you’re using the right keywords, your Header Tags are using relevant Key Words, your Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are the right length and not duplicated, that your images have SEO relevant file names, all images have Alt-Tags and all images are of an appropriate size. That your content has keywords featured in the top one or two paragraphs but that keywords are not overly repeated. That nothing’s been missed, no stone left unturned, and your links to your Social Media profiles still work.
It’s so easy to take these things for granted, to trust that your developer has done their job but such complacency could lead to a decline in your business because you’ll never find out until it’s too late. Nobody will tell you if they encounter a problem, they’ll just go to their search engine of choice, probably Google, and look for somebody else to service their need.
Unlike a lot of website SEO evaluations, mine will be carried out by me, not by a machine, so I’ll come back with a far better evaluation and detailed list of recommendations that you can carry out, that you can pass to your developer or you can ask me to implement. And if you book your *Website Workoutby the end of January 2023 you’ll get 100% of the cost back if you choose to let me take on your SEO.
Carry out the in-depth Website Workout yourself (but you might slip up if you are overly familiar with your site so getting a third party to do it for you is always the best option
Get in touch to talk about other options. I can help with your website, your SEO, your Social Media, Email Marketing and much more and I even offer a free consultancy session, or you can just drop me an email or just give me a call on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146.
There’s increasing talk in the media, and in advertising, of VPNs as an apparent cure to all your security woes and as a potential money saver. But what is a VPN and do you actually need one?
What is a VPN and how does it Work?
The acronym VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Virtual in that it’s not, in the strictest sense, real, your VPN only exists for the duration of your use, Private because your connection is encrypted which prevents bad actors form listening in and Network because your VPN builds a private network between your device and an endpoint. It’s often likened to building your own tunnel from you to the endpoint with the data being very secure as it travels through your own tunnel.
Do you remember in some old films when the detectives would say “we can’t track this person, they’ve bounced their call, internet connection etc, off at least 9 different servers across the world”? Well, they could have been using a VPN.
Back in the days when I was employed as a consultant, my employer used a VPN so that we could securely connect to the office network when working remotely. And that’s what a VPN does, it allows a more secure connection across the internet.
Your VPN provider has a number of endpoints that they provide, around the world and when you connect to one, your data is encrypted before it leaves your device and pops out on to the internet at one of these points-of-presence with everything in-between making it’s way through your own, encrypted, secure, tunnel.
Imagine you pop in to your local coffee shop and hop on their free wi-fi to check your emails, perhaps do a little shopping and check your bank account. All your data flows through your coffee shop’s wi-fi router (Local Network in the graphic above) and out on to the internet (Public Network). However, it’s very easy for someone with a malicious intent to set up their own connection to the cafe’s WiFi and pretend to be the free WiFi service. If you connect to this all your data goes through their system (and it could just be their laptop) which allows them to pick up your connection, analyse your traffic and steal your data. This is called a man-in-the-middle attack and is pretty common and very easy to pull off.
If you use a VPN it doesn’t matter about the man-in-the-middle because your data zips right past that, secure in it’s own encrypted, tunnel, on the way to the endpoint – which is where it gets decrypted and sent on it’s way to your chosen website.
Why Should I use a VPN?
There are a number of reasons why you might choose to use a VPN.
The first is SECURITY
As noted just now, it’s not overly difficult to intercept web traffic, some of which will contain personal data and security related info – user names, passwords, banking data etc and a VPN can overcome most of the risks associated with the interception of privacy related data, keeping you safe from identity fraud and theft.
The second is SAVING MONEY
Your VPN provider will have endpoints in a number of different countries and if you select one of those countries then the internet will think that’s where you are – because that’s where your internet connection and data look as though it’s originating.
This means that you might find subscriptions (Netflix, YouTube, Spotify etc) are less expensive in other countries, that flights and holidays may cost less if booked from somewhere other than the UK and so on.
It’ll take a little bit of research but here are a couple of examples.
Spotify Premium costs just $1.58/month in India (the cheapest) but $18.39/month in Denmark (the most expensive).
YouTube Premium is similarly priced, costing just $1.56/month in India but $15.95 in Switzerland.
Not all VPNs provide access to the least expensive countries but there are many good deals to be had, although you do need a VPN that is able to bypass Geo-Blocks, the technology that subscription providers use to catch VPN users and stop them getting the best deals.
The third is HIDING YOUR LOCATION
When conducting an SEO review I have to appear as a random, anonymous, user when researching client sites. Unfortunately, due to the way that Google works, if I just use my regular browser, Google knows it’s me – even if I choose “Incognito” mode. This means that Google presents search results based on known likes, browser and search history and a wide range of other metrics – which is pretty useless.
So, I use a Browser that rejects cookies, stores no history and has a built in VPN. This ensures that I see results that are unfiltered, for the most accurate results. The Browser that I use for this is the Epic Privacy Browser and it’s free to download and use
I also have international clients and conducting a web search in the UK will show me results biased towards the UK. Again, by setting my VPN endpoint in the country I want to research it looks as though I am connected to that country and so I get to see search results from that country.
Some UK services, BBC iPlayer for example, block you from accessing shows and films when you are outside of the UK because they don’t have the necessary Copyright licenses to broadcast shows to the rest of the world. When on holiday abroad this could limit your access to entertainment. Using a VPN will help bypass this restriction.
Many service providers on the internet use details from your internet connection to tailor services to you and target ads at you. A VPN will prevent them from attributing your browsing history to your PC/Phone although if you are logged in to Google, Facebook etc this becomes null and void.
A good VPN will also scan files as you download them, provide Ad Free results and ensure that there’s no data tracking or storing when you are searching.
So which VPN should I choose
As with all things technology related, the real answer is “it depends”. If you just want to anonymise your web browsing then browsers such as Brave (no VPN but blocks trackers and a lot of Ads) or Epic (the one with the inbuilt VPN – although it only has EndPoints in 8 countries) will be sufficient for your needs.
Probably the most well known VPN is provided by Nord and they regularly run a range of special offers. Their normal price is £94.35PA for a 2 year contract although this does enable you to use their VPN on up to 6 different devices. However, at the time of writing this is reduced to £33.65PA or just £2.49/month and you get an additional 3 months free (prices are exc. VAT)
Another leading VPN is SurfShark. Their “Unlimited VPN” package is currently just £1.74/month for the first 26 months and can be used on an unlimited number of devices
My current VPN of choice is TunnelBear but for no other reason than when I signed up I got a lot of bandwidth for very little money. It has some limitations but none that I have found impact on my use
If you have a 2TB plan (or greater) storage plan with Google then you can use their free “1” VPN on phones (Android and iOS). However, it does mean that you are trusting Google not to look at your data as it passes through their servers. You also can’t control your EndPoint so it’s no good if you want to browser from different countries
Beware of “Free” VPNs because nothing’s ever free. A free VPN may come with ads and it might also sell your data on to unidentified third parties.
Free VPNs also may limit the Bandwidth they provide which will limit the downloads and streaming you can do.
Free VPNs may also limit your Speed which also makes them useless for streaming and downloads will take quite a while longer than you are probably used to.
And finally, if you have any VPN related questions then I probably know enough to be able to answer your question or point you in the direction of someone who can.
If you need assistance with your SEO, Email Marketing, Social media or any other type of online marketing activities then I can definitely help you so you really should get in touch – even if it’s just for a free consult. You can call me on 01793 238020 or 07966 547146, email email@example.com or book a slot using my calendar and we’ll take it from there
October is National Cyber Month. What is National Cyber Security Month?
Threats of Cyber Crime from Cyber Criminals continue to increase and we all need to be increasingly alert and focussed on the threats, the impact they could have on our lives AND the things we can do to minimise the risk to ourselves and our businesses.
National Cyber Security Month 2021 has the overarching theme “Do your part. #BeCyberSmart” and looks to empower individuals and businesses to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.
If we all do our part then we will all benefit from a safer place to live and be in a safer place to do business. Not only that but we’ll also be denying the cybercriminals the space they need to extort, employ fraud and generate the money they lust after.
How can we contribute?
We can all look to implement stronger/better security practices such as not clicking links in emails, not opening emails from people we don’t know or even opening emails we weren’t expecting. We can install security software on our phones, our tablets and our computers. We can use stronger passwords, and make sure we use unique passwords for EVERY application.
Each week, National Cyber Security Month will have a different focus, starting with Week 1 – Be Cyber Smart
Week 1, Starting October 4 – Be Cyber Smart
Our lives are increasingly intertwined with the internet and the World Wide Web. Pretty much all personal and business information is stored on internet connected platforms, from banking to social media, from email to SMS, from phone and video calling to watching TV and listening to music and beyond. The internet simplifies some areas of our lives and makes it more complex in others but the one, overarching common factor, is the need for a strong level of security to keep our data safe.
That’s why Week 1 of National Cyber Security Week focuses on the best security practices and “cyber hygiene” to keep our data safe, owning our role in Cyber Security and starting with the basics. That includes using unique, strong, passwords and making sure that we use multi-factor authentication (2FA) where it’s available, preferably avoiding SMS (text Message) authentication where possible.
Week 2, Starting October 11 – Fight the Phish – Trust No One
Phishing attacks, where emails and text messages are sent containing web links encouraging you to click the link, visit a website set up by cyber criminals and enter your user names and passwords are still on the increase. Why are they on the increase? Because they work. People see an email that purports to come from their bank, HMRC, DVLA, Post Office, BT etc. and are given a warning claiming that the recipient needs to do something NOW or they will be locked out of their account, will be arrested, won’t have an order delivered …. or one of many other ruses. You click the link and either have malicious software sent to your computer without your knowledge and approval or give away user names and passwords to cyber criminals, enabling them to access your personal accounts and to steal from you.
The X-Files mantra of “Trust No one” applies here. Any email that contains a request for such information should always be approached with caution and, if you have even a small inkling of concern, then simply open your web browser and visit the website of the sender to check out the veracity of the email.
Week 3, Starting October 18 – Explore, Experience, Share
Week three focuses on the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education (NICE), inspiring and promoting the exploration of careers in the cybersecurity sector. Whether you are a student or a veteran or seeking a career change, this week is all about the exciting, ever changing, field of cyber security, a rapidly growing business sector with something for everyone
Week 4, Starting October 25 – Cybersecurity First
The last week of National Cybersecurity Month looks at making security a priority. Actually taking a Cyber Security First approach to designing and building new products, developing new software, creating new Apps.
Make Cyber Security Training a key part of onboarding when taking on new employees (and, at the other end, making sure that technology rights are revoked when people leave organisations).
Ensure that your employees are equipped with the cyber secure tools that they need for their jobs. If you practice a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, allowing employees to use their own phones, tablets and computers then you need to ensure that the cyber security deployed is as strong as that on equipment that you provide.
Before buying new kit, or signing up to a new service, do your research, check the security. Is it secure enough? Can it be made more secure? Can it be remotely wiped? Who has control? All of these questions, properly answered, will ramp up your cyber security defences and help keep the cyber crims at bay
When you set up new equipment, that new phone, tablet or laptop, I know it’s exciting but please invoke the Cyber Security first, don’t leave it until last – it might be too late. Make sure default passwords are replaced with something secure and lock down those privacy settings.
Cyber Security MUST NOT be an afterthought. If it is, you could find yourself paying the price
And if you need some help, you can always ask me. I might not know the answer but I know people in the Cyber Security industry that I can put you in touch with. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone/message me 07966 547146, call 01793 238020 or message me on Social Media and we’ll get it sorted.
Although people seem to use the terms WWW and Internet interchangeably, the two are actually very different beasts
There is a belief that the Internet came about through military research. The US government needed to find a way to send the “launch” message to ICBM silos in the event of the telephone network being disabled.
Although the US military contributed to the formation of the internet it was a lot more than this, and was mainly in the academic domain.
In the early 60s various projects in the US, UK and France had the aim of building, and interconnecting, computer networks, particularly the Super Computers of the day, for data sharing and data transmission.
In the early 80s the American National Science Foundation funded a number of supercomputers at several US universities, provided interconnectivity between them and also built a network that allowed by other academic institutions for research. This marked the beginning of the internet.
The first Internet Service Providers emerged in the USA & Australia in 1989 and in 1990 a small number of commercial entities in the USA were provided with private connections to this network. Connectivity increased rapidly, and the Internet as we know it, was born.
The Internet is the structure along which data travels when going from A to B and can be likened to a road network. And, like a road network, there are some routes that are faster than others and even the fast routes suffer from occasional issues and blockages which slows things down.
The World Wide Web
In 1989-90 research at CERN, in Switzerland, by British computer scientist, Tim Berners Lee (now Sir Tim) saw the development of a technology that linked hypertext documents in to an information system which was then accessible from any node (connection) on the network. Sir Tim released his research in tot the world and allowed it to be used without any license fees and this allowed it to become the defacto document standard for the world wide web. This is why all web addresses start with HTTP, it defines the protocol to be used to transmit documents, Hypertext Transmission Protocol although we are now more familiar with HTTPS where the S adds Secure.
Basically, the Internet is the structure along which the data travels (the road system mentioned in the previous section) whilst the World Wide Web is the data that travels across that network, like traffic on a road.
If you need any help with your presence on the World Wide Web, from your website through Search Engien Optimisation (SEO), Advertising or anything else I’ll be more than happy to have a free chat to see how/where I can help your business. All you have to do is call me on 01793 238020, email email@example.com or just search Chief SEO Officer.
And now, the time has come to replace my trusty Dell Chromebook. It has lasted 6 years (longer than nay other laptop that I have had) but it’s time has come. Battery life has fallen to about 2-3 hours…..not bad for a Windows device but the fall from the 9 hours that I had gotten used to was gradual but, eventually, it’s not no longer sufficient. Yes, I can easily swap the battery but there are other, more serious issues.
The screen resolution is limiting the amount that I can view on the screen, hampering my productivity but the real kicker is an impending mechanical failure. At least once a day the cooling fan makes a horrible, graunch as it starts up. I need a reliable device and my worry is that the cooling is facing impending death – leaving me with a useless device.
And, last but not least, Covid has impacted my thoughts. If I am forced to work from home. Until now I have been lucky enough to be able to continue working from my office but who knows how the new year is going to pan out. So I need a device that I can use to access the full range of software that I use on a day to basis, and that means Windows. Yes, I can tweak images using a Chromebook but full image creation, deep editing and more is beyond their capabilities and so, with reluctance, a Windows device is, once again, a must.
My choice came about through a detailed selection process that encompassed
Processor type (cores, thread, performance and cache)
Hard drive – had to be SSD for performance. Not overly concerned by size – I have sufficient external drives and cloud storage to negate any issues called by a lack of on-device storage
RAM – installed RAM. Yes, upgrades are normally available but add to device cost and time taken to source memory
Screen size and resolution – small enough to be relatively portable, large enough to be effective and with a resolution that allows a decent level of productivity. This latter need removed all the cheap laptops from my “wish list”
Battery life – 4-5 hours would be great
Cost conscious – I didn’t want to pay more than £500
Not made by a Chinese controlled company. The Huawei laptops looked great. Thin, light, great screens, plenty of performance and real lookers……but they are Chinese and I just couldn’t bring myself to support the Chinese regime.
After a lot of research, I found a great deal on a Dell that met all of my requirements. Yes, it’s made in China but not by a Chinese controlled company. Yes, it was built to order so I had to wait 3 weeks for it to be manufactured and shipped, but my ned wasn’t urgent so I was happy to wait.
And the deal was genuinely good.
So my Dell Chromebook as been put to one side, it will function as an excellent 2nd screen if I need it, and the Dell Inspiron takes over
When I started using the internet to access the world wide web, back in the early 90s I had a 14″ monitor with a 640×480 resolution. That’s 640 pixels (dots) wide and 480 pixels high, smartphones did not exist and connection was made via a modem (US Robotics) and a dial-up (phone line) connection.
Then I started working for an IT company and moved up to a 15″ screen with a 800×600 resolution and could get more on my screen. I was really excited when I moved to a 17″ screen with a 1024×768 resolution. Not only could I be more productive but we moved to an ISDN (digital connection) and the world was a better place.
Although I had been using a smartphone for a while (I am a bit of a geek) the adoption of a phone with a screen really took off in 2007, when after 2 years of development, Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone.
This introduced a problem for web designers and developers. Screen resolution was 420 x 480 and sites developed for traditional monitors tended to not work very well on Smartphone screens. Monitors were wider than they they were taller – SmartPhones were taller than they were wider and so a lot of horizontal scrolling was required. And this was just horrible.
As a consequence, web developers started to design mobile only websites. A bit of code on the home page would identify whether the site was being visited by a desktop (or laptop) PC or by a mobile device and the visitor would be seamlessly forwarded to the relevant site. The mobile site would commonly be identified by an m. so the regular site would be www.website.com and the mobile version would be m.website.com.
However, this meant that web developers had to build two different sites, which took time and money so wasn’t an ideal solution.
By 2008 work was well underway developing a technology that would overcome this and allow a single site to be developed. One that would automatically change its size depending on the device being used to access it. Initially these were called by a variety of names, “flexible”, “fluid”, “elastic” and “liquid” being the main terms used. In May 2010 the word “responsive” was used for the first time, by 2012 “Responsive” was #2 in Top web Design Trends by .Net magazine and 2013 became the Year of Responsive Web Design according to Mashable. In the same year Google announced that it was going to reward responsive designs with improved rankings and the flood gates opened.
By 2014 mobile web access exceeded desktop access for the first time and in 2019 Google switched focus from desktop first when evaluating websites to taking a mobile first approach.
Now, barely a website is built unless it’s “responsive” but this brings it’s own set of problems.
In my experience, most companies who request a Responsive site rarely take a detailed look as to how quickly the responsive site loads, how it looks and how easy it is to use. They quickly check on their phones and, provided the site looks OK, they accept the design they have been given.
And that’s where the problems start. It’s very easy to build a Responsive website, especially in WordPress, and even easier to make it slow to load (remember, you have less than 3 seconds to get your site open and just 2/10ths of a second for the visitor to understand what’s on offer)
Lots of sites still use carousels, those scrolling images that feature at the top of web pages (you can read about my dislike of carousels here). This means that all carousel images have to load first and the worst responsive sites with a carousel simply display all the carousel images, stacked one above the other.
Although people can scroll easily on a phone, they have to understand what they are scrolling for and a lot of people simply won’t bother, especially when faced with 2 or more images.
How good is your website when viewed on a smartphone?
How do you know that people don’t like the Responsive version of your website? It simple, log in to your Google Analytics account and look at the initial “quality” metrics for the three device types, desktop/laptop, mobile and tablet.
Three Quality Metrics
For a quick site performance overview I always look at the average length of each visit to a website, at the average number of pages per visit and the Bounce Rate – the number of visitors who reach your website but leave without clicking on anything. By navigating in Google Analytics to Audience/Mobile/Overview you’ll see a chart, similar to the one below,
Remember my simple Bounce Rate scale 0 – 20% = Excellent (and very rare) 21% – 50% = Average +51% – Investigate
In the above example you can see where the problem lies, Desktop and Tablet Bounce Rates are comfortable, around the 40% mark whereas visits from Mobile devices have a Bounce Rate of nearly 64%. That means that 2/3rds of ALL visits from users using their phones leave without doing anything. Totally wasted opportunity and even if the company increases it’s marketing to attract more visits, this will only continue unless action is taken.
What should the site owner be doing
It’s really simple.
You need to fully understand the goal of your website. I know that sounds simplistic but so many people have a website because they feel they need one but don’t really have any specific goals.
Your site should have clear goals and it should be immediately obvious what those goals are. Do you want visitor to your website to
Place an order
Subscribe to a newsletter
Make contact to ask a question
Now all you have to do is open your site on your phone and take a good look. How fast does the site open? How quickly can it be used? How obvious is the primary goal? How easy is it for a visitor to carry out the primary goal.
Make notes about the performance and have a conversation with your web designer to sort everything out and if you need help, you can always get in touch for a chat (no cost, no obligation) or you can leap straight in and book a website review – I have some great deals on website audits, take a look .
I can provide advice, help, and support. Just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there
For years, technologists have been promoting digital transformation, using technology to communicate rather than having to attend endless, often pointless, meetings. Corona virus, lock-down and working from home has really pushed many businesses to take a fresh look at the options available to them.
Lock-Down means that a lot of us are having to work very differently, working from home, whether from a home office, the dining table, the kitchen table or a bedroom dressing table or a shed at the end of the garden it’s all quite new.
There’s no doubt that as a result of this forced, rapid, transition, many of us will find that continuing to work from home is far better than commuting to an office, warehouse, workshop or other business location. And, in the long term, everybody wins. No commuting means time saved, no travelling to meetings means time and travel costs saved and no travelling is much much better for the environment too. It also means we get to spend more time with our families.
There are a number of platforms that will help you to do this. Simple platforms such as Skype and Messenger are familiar to a lot of people, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams are also in pretty common use but they often lack some of the features that make video-conferencing much easier.
Video Conference Options
The key features that I look for include
Maximum permitted meeting length
Screen sharing – so that I can share presentations etc.
Recording, can the session be recorded so that I can share it with the delegates for them to refer back to?
What services do the free accounts NOT have?
As an example, Zoom, which has really increased in popularity over the last couple of months has a Free account that allows video conferences of any length with 2 people but this drops to just 40 minutes for 3 or more but does permit screen sharing. However, there are concerns over the security of Zoom.
To overcome this, the Zoom Pro account at £143.88 + VAT annually increases the meeting length to 24 hours and provides 1Gb of cloud storage,
Webex, a Cisco product, is more secure. The free account limits the number of people in your call to 100, places no limits on meeting length but does not offer any recording and does not offer screen sharing.
The Webex Small Teams account, £135.00 + VAT PA adds screen sharing and recording to the free account.
If you want any help with your digital marketing please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat by email (email@example.com) by phone (01793 238020) or ask me on Social Media – Linkedin or Twitter and I’ll be only too happy to talk.Thanks for reading and I hope you stay well
The “Dark Web” has been in the press frequently over the past couple of years, associated with tales of hacking, the sale of personal information, credit card data, drugs, weapons and other illicit items. However, there’s been very little by way of explanation as to what the dark web is and how you go there and this item looks to answer that, purely for research purposes of course.
A number of news stories have also referred to the “Deep Web” which has lead to a degree of confusion, as if the media consider the two to be interchangeable.
So, just to clear up any confusion here’s an explanation of the differences between the Deep and the Dark Web.
Let’s start at the top
The “Surface Web” is the web we all know and love, the websites we visit and the sites/pages that we find using Google/Bing/Yahoo and other search engines. And there’s the key, it’s only the parts of the internet that the search engines know about.
Just visit any website and click a few links, you’ll be doing the same thing that the search engines do, visiting websites and following links to find pages that they can present to you when you’re looking for things.
What is The Deep Web
Simply put, the Deep Web is just the area of the internet that is beyond the reach of the major search engines.
As an example, just go to www.britishairways.comand try to find a holiday to the Nautic Hotel between 7th and 14th October in Mallorca without using the search facilities.
It’s not that easy, in fact it you might find it confusing/difficult/impossible. You’re not alone, the search engines do to because they can’t get much further down than the first 3-4 layers. At least this is getting better because Google, Bing and the like are always looking to improve the way they manage such challenges but it’s still a struggle for them.
Websites can use code, called robots.txt, to actually block the search engines from certain pages so that they are difficult to find, deliberately. Websites with members only pages may choose to do this, for example.
As you can see, the Deep Web is neither illicit nor scary, it’s just out of reach of the major search engines.
What is the Dark Web
This is where things get really interesting. The Dark Web is a small portion of the web that is intentionally hidden and encrypted and which cannot be accessed through your typical web browser.
To access the Dark Web you need a specialised web browser that enables you to tap into the the TOR network. TOR, short for ‘The Onion Router’, so called because it uses many layers to both encrypt the data that moves around and to make it almost impossible for the authorities to trace internet activity back to a particular user and location. Great for security and anonymity which is why TOR was originally designed by US Intelligence agencies to enable American spies to securely communicate with their parent organisation and not reveal their location and identity.
The code was officially released to the public in 2004, and it’s still used by human rights groups and the like in repressive and unsafe countries to communicate with the outside world, but like almost everything it has also been subverted by those with criminal tendencies and put to a darker use.
You might recall that a couple of years ago the media was full of stories about a Dark Web website called Silk Road. This was like an eBay for criminals, a place where you could buy illegal items such as drugs & weapons and engage criminals to carry out illegal activities on your behalf, hacking for example.
The Silk Road was eventually closed down by the authorities but similar sites still exist if you know where to look and how to access them.
The first step is to download the TOR software, it’s free and pretty easy to find. However there’s no Dark Web version of Google – you have to know your way around if you want to find the illegal stuff – I don’t and wouldn’t broadcast it even if I did know.
I may not be able to help with your journey to the Dark Web but if your Surface Web needs improving or your Deep Web needs surfacing to make it easy to find, then get in touch, firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call- 01793 238020 and I’ll dive in and see what I can do.
In July 2014 I bought a new laptop. It wasn’t a Windows device, nor an Apple Macbook- it was a Chromebook.
Having been a business/power user of Windows since the mid-90s it was a major leap. Although it was less of a leap than it might seem because I still kept my main PC in the office for most of my work, my laptop being used for working away from the office, making presentations, delivering coaching and use at home.
So, as the end of 2018 approaches, and my Chromebook is 4.5 years old – how has it been?
Real life with a Chromebook
Well, 1st off, it’s the longest time I’ve ever kept a laptop.
From a software perspective, it’s totally up to date, still receiving automatic updates from Google central and, what’s more, unlike every one of my previous Windows laptops, performance has not fallen off.
I can still open more than 10 tabs in my browser without any slowing down. I can access all of the Google Docs suite for word-processing, spreadsheeting and presenting, I can use Office 365 in the cloud for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint, still read the news, play a few games and do whatever I need to do.
The only thing that has slipped is battery life. I reckon it’s down to about 4.5 to 5 hours now so I cant go a full day any more. However, that’s a battery issue, endemic to all devices and a simple battery swap would soon restore the status quo
Do I need a new laptop yet?
Would I like a new laptop?
Of course, I’m a techie and a geek and we thrive on new stuff but it’s not a priority.
When it comes to a change, what would I do?
Now, that’s a tough question. I still use Windows in the office and still have a need to work when out and about so nothing has changed in that respect. There are many more lightweight Windows laptops around with long battery lives but to get any decent performance the price is still too high. Way beyond any value that I would obtain so, when it’s time it’ll be another Chromebook although I would go for one with a higher resolution screen. And that’s it – that’s all that I’d ask for.
And if you need any help with technology, websites, SEO or marketing all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call on 01793 238020 or send email@example.com an email for a free, zero obligation chat about your needs.
Brexit was always going to have problems and issues for businesses but none expected it to have an impact on business domain names.
Well, until Easter 2018 anyway, which was when a major problem for businesses was announced in well known and respected technology news site, The Register.
You probably chose your .EU domain for a really good reason, you want the world to know that either you are an EU-based business or your market is the EU, for example.
Brexit and the .EU domain
However, as a result of Brexit, the EU has announced that all .EU domains registered by UK businesses (and individuals) will be revoked on B-Day (Brexit Day) 31st March 2018
What this means is that if you are one of the 300,000 UK organisations or individuals who has registered a .EU domain you might well see your website disappear overnight.
Obviously, continental domain registrars may well take advantage of this, offering to take on your domain and “fix” the problem for a (presumably large) fee, but that also has issues. The European Commission has hinted it is unhappy with that arrangement too; they will no longer allow you to own an .eu domain (that’s their whole point), so you are putting yourself at some commercial risk (similar to not owning IP in any products you make), and the EU is legally bound to prefer “the good of the EU” in any contractual dispute. Thankfully though, there are alternatives:
What’s in a (domain) name?
It’s not just your web site that could be affected, your email system, security certificates for encryption and e-commerce, and possibly even remote access to company assets for sales staff might be impacted too.
It will vary, obviously, depending on how you are set up, but checking this now is very sensible.
Perhaps the best approach is to do two things
Immediately register a suitable .UK domain, and
Point your .EU web traffic to it as soon as possible.
You have a choice of .uk domain name, and you can still represent your EU connection in it, if that’s crucial. For example,
might change to,
We realise this isn’t ideal, but the second name is safe as it can’t be affected by any disruption the EU Commission might cause. You would have normal rights to the name, under English law, and, if it’s done right, there’s almost a whole year for your clients to get used to your new URL. Thus the risk is minimised, and it becomes one aspect of Brexit that can’t hurt you further commercially.
If this change goes ahead—and this is much more likely than unlikely in our opinion—you have less than a year for clients to become used to the change. This isn’t something to hesitate over: the implication is that no redirection will be possible after 31st March 2019, so at that point your site will simply vanish off the internet. People may even think you’ve gone bust!
Right now, you have enough time for this NOT to become an expensive issue. The longer you leave this one, the more electronic business disruption is likely to cost you come Brexit day.
If you have a .eu domain and you are worried, please get in touch: 01793 238020 firstname.lastname@example.org, the fixes are mostly straightforward and inexpensive to implement (without disruption, if you act quickly enough).
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