Tuesday March 11, 2014
The NSA's mass surveillance program of ordinary citizens has many of us on edge and worried about our privacy. In his first interview since leaking the NSA's activities, Edward Snowden answered what the average user can do to protect their data in this insecure age.
The three things he highlighted are:
- Encrypting a device's entire hard drive
- Encrypting network traffic (e.g., with a VPN)
- Using Tor for anonymous web browsing
The trouble is, most people don't know how to do these things off the bat, and, in addition, network speeds can slow down from using a VPN and/or Tor. Still, these are important steps to take if you value the privacy of your information. For some users in particular, who work with sensitive data on their laptops and other mobile devices, these steps are especially important--even if you don't care about government snooping. A VPN and device encryption also protect your information from hackers and data thieves.
Here are full instructions for how to follow these recommendations and protect your data and privacy now.
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Tuesday March 4, 2014
All of the "Big Four" wireless carriers in the US--AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile--have recently introduced an early upgrade option for subscribers. This feature lets you switch out your current (outdated-in-two-months) phone with the latest and greatest before your standard 2-year contract is up. This is great for those who upgrade their phones often to get better features (better battery life or cameras, newer technologies like fingerprint scanners, etc.)...but it's not so great for budget reasons.
Joanna Stern crunched the numbers on the Wall Street Journal (chart below) and concluded the cost of using the early upgrade plan is $200 to $400 more than simply waiting until your contract is up and you can get a new phone subsidized.
T-Mobile's case is a little different, because you always pay for your phone in full upfront but even so their jump plan promises a sort of discount for early upgraders. Theirs happens to be the most affordable plans, whether standard or early upgrade (something noted here before).
Any way you slice it, though, early upgrade plans are more for early adopters than for value/bargain hunters.
Friday February 28, 2014
You might already know the top places to work from home or telecommute. Similarly, some cities are more ideal than others if you're a freelancer or work for yourself. NerdWallet performed an analysis of the best places where you can free yourself from the commute.
They looked at 3 things: how many self-employed people are in the city (a sign that the freelancing lifestyle is sustainable), the median rent cost (since freelancers don't have as much income security), and the median cost of health insurance (since we don't get health insurance benefits).
The top 20 cities are all over the country. Topping the list is Los Angeles, since it has the highest percent of households with self-employment income, but cities like Miami, Nashville, Minneapolis, Boise, and Seattle all are freelancer-friendly.
Your hometown is just one consideration if you're thinking about freelancing, but you can really literally work anywhere if you have a job that can be done remotely. If you've been thinking about moving, here's the full list of the best cities for freelance workers.
Friday February 28, 2014
We've all become so dependent on our mobile devices that it's sometimes devastating when our phones, tablets, or laptops suddenly turn off. (Oops, no more battery, and you're on the go.) Mobile battery packs and cell phone battery come to the rescue, but they also come with a hefty price.
I'm not talking just about money, though these mobile battery solutions could cost as much as $100. I mean the added bulk and weight that these accessories add. For example, the Limefuel L28N5 Nexus 5 case I just reviewed makes it too heavy to use the phone with one hand for long periods of time and too thick to fit in normal pockets.
On the other hand, it doubled the battery life of the Nexus 5, so instead of charging the phone every single day, I can rest assured for even over two days that I've got enough juice.
Some other mobile battery packs are even thicker and heavier than the mobile devices they're supposed to charge.
If you're frequently away from a power outlet, though, these might be worth their weight in gold to your productivity. What do you think?