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Monday, 24 October 2011

Evernote Giveaway Winners


Last week, we promised to giveaway Evernote Premium accounts to five of our lucky readers. Scores of people participated in the giveaway to win a feature-rich Evernote account.

As you might have known, Evernote Premium comes with a ton of additional features that are not available in the free version: there's PDF search, image recognition and a lot more!

We've chosen the winners randomly. Here they are:

  • #2 Praval Singh
  • #16 Rohit Nvv
  • #27 Clinton Sexton
  • #30 Ruthiehl
  • #46 ckailash

You've all been sent an email with instructions on activating the premium features. Those who've won: congrats! Those who haven't: watch out. There's more coming in this space.

Post from: Killer Tech Tips

Evernote Giveaway Winners

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3 WordPress Security Plugins To Keep Hackers Out In The Cold


This is a guest post by fellow blogger Thomas Frank. Thomas is a junior at Iowa State University studying MIS and speech communication. In his free time, he runs his own blog that focuses on college tips. You should follow him on Twitter!

Out of all the blog platforms and content management systems jockeying for position in the world today, WordPress has established itself as the most popular one. If you're a WordPress user, this is a very good thing; the platform's popularity ensure that it has plenty of willing developers, timely updates, and lots of plugins and themes to choose from. However, always keep in mind that popularity is a double-edged sword. Just as many legitimate bloggers, developers, and webmasters are using WordPress for their own purposes, there are also plenty of hackers and other non-legit, shady characters out there trying to exploit it in order to destroy your work or steal your stuff.

These hackers are kept at bay pretty well, thanks to all the time and effort that WordPress developers put into making WordPress a secure platform and releasing frequent updates. Still, the platform isn't perfect, and hacks do happen. So what can you do to avoid being a victim?

There are actually a lot of great things you can do to secure your site, ranging from trivial to technical. If you're not an experienced coder or webmaster, you may have trouble performing some of the recommended security upgrades to your site; however, there is one thing literally anyone can do, and that's installing plugins.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great plugins available that can help you batten down the hatches and protect your site. In this article, I'd like to take a look at three of my favorites.

Limit Login Attempts

The Limit Login Attempts plugin is easily my most recommended plugin for security; in fact, you'd be a fool not to have it or something like it. The plugin's functionality is pretty easy to guess from its name; it simply limits the amount of times a certain IP address can attempt to log in to your WordPress dashboard.

The plugin operates by issuing two types of lockouts – I'll just call them Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 lockouts are the first to be issued, and then a Level 2 lockout will be issued after a certain amount of Level 1 lockouts has been reached. When you install the plugin, you can go to its options page and set the amount of failed attempts it takes to be issued a lockout, as well as how long the lockout lasts. My lockout setup looks like this:

  • After four failed login attempts, a Level 1 lockout of 120 minutes will be issued.
  • After four Level 1 lockouts have been issued to the same IP, that IP will be issued a Level 2 lockout of two weeks.
You can set the plugin to be as strict and unforgiving as you like, but I'll give you one word of advice: make sure you allow some room for your own legitimate typing mistakes. You never know when you'll need to log in to your site at 3AM. While you could technically just FTP into your site and delete the plugin in the event that you lock yourself out, it's best to just allow yourself some room for error. The difference between two and four allowed tries isn't much for a hacker who has to completely guess your password, but it'll help for that one time you realize that your fingers were accidentally shifted over a row ;)
Limit Login Attempts also logs each IP that gets issued a lockout, and you can set the plugin to email you when one is issued as well. It a good way to monitor what's going down at your site, both when you're there and when you're away.

So why is this plugin so important to have? Well, easily the most common attack that your WordPress site will have to deal with is password-guessing bots. These bots simply roam the net searching for WordPress blogs, and when they find one, they head over to wp-admin.php and start trying to log in. If you've got this plugin installed, your site will send these bots packing after just a few tries, instead of letting them sit there and literally go through the dictionary.

Of course, you can further thwart these password-guessing bots by making sure your WordPress administrator account isn't named "admin", as that's the username 99% of these bots will use in their guesses.


Ah, the classic CAPTCHA! This piece of spam-killing technology is embedded into almost every website you go to these days. There's a reason why, though – it's really effective at stopping bots. SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam is a plugin that can put a CAPTCHA field on any part of your site that allows for user input. This plugin is especially useful at your wp-admin.php page, as it puts one more step in between the bots and your site's backend. Of course, putting a CAPTCHA up won't stop a human hacker, but it definitely helps keep the bots away. One nice thing to know is that failing the CAPTCHA will cause your Limit Login Attempts plugin to register a login failure – even if the username and password are right. That's why these two plugins work really well in tandem.

This plugin can also be used in other parts of your site, such as your comment form. While Akismet should be pretty effective at taking care of spam comments, this can provide an extra layer of spam protection if you really need it. Of course, if you're using a different commenting solution, this may not be applicable.

One thing to note here: when you set up this plugin, I'd recommend setting the CAPTCHA difficulty to the highest setting. Even at this setting, the CAPTCHAs that the plugin issues are still pretty readable. Since they're easy to read, you might as well make it as hard for bots to get in as possible and crank up that difficulty.

Audit Trail

While it doesn't actually help prevent unwanted intrusions into your site, Audit Trail is great security plugin nonetheless. This plugin basically logs any activity that happens on your site's backend, including logins, changes to posts and pages, and more. Each time an action is taken, the plugin will record what the action was, the target page/post of the action (if applicable), the time and date of the action, the user who did it, and their IP address.

This is a great plugin to use in order to keep tabs on what's happening in your site, and it's also essential for looking into any incidents that do happen. For example, if you have a multi-author blog and something bad happens, you can easily find out what user did it. Furthermore, you can check the IP address to determine whether it was actually the user assigned to that username, or a hacker who had figured out the password.

These three plugins make WordPress an even more secure platform, and I highly recommend that you look into them. If you're interested in making your site even more secure, check out this article on WordPress security over at Quick Online Tips.

This is a guest post by fellow blogger Thomas Frank. Thomas is a junior at Iowa State University studying MIS and speech communication. In his free time, he runs his own blog that focuses on college tips. You should follow him on Twitter!

Post from: Killer Tech Tips

3 WordPress Security Plugins To Keep Hackers Out In The Cold

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Get An Android Phone


Almost everyone has a smartphone these days. The most popular ones are Android handsets because they are available in all price ranges and provide you a ton of features. But are you aware of the shortcomings of Android? Read on to find out.

This article has been written based on observations I made while using an Android phone and how I had to replace it with the Apple iPhone.

1. Pathetic Battery Life

Android Battery Sucks, No one can deny it!

Manufacturers call their devices "the greatest smartphones in the world" but not one of them come with good battery life, which happens to be one of the most basic aspects of a cell phone.

Although we are promised several hours of 3G and EDGE usage, the numbers are far away form the phone's actual longevity stats. The battery drains off when you surf the internet, when you play games, when you use GPS and even when you fool around in the menu. Is it just me or does that include all the reasons I bought the phone in the first place? Sigh.

What's the point of supposedly having a bunch of features when your phone is just going to die on you in the middle of the day?

The iPhone on the other hand performs much better when it comes to battery life. It gives up to 40 hours of music playback, 15 hours of video playback and 12 hours on 3G with intermediate usage, which is more than we can expect in a smart phone. And what's more, the apps that are dormant or minimized on the iPhone consume very little power (almost zero, according to Apple) which makes it ever more long lasting. Normal users can easily get through a day with the iPhone.

2. Apps are great. Are they?

Malware can even record your calls

Android supposedly has a lot of apps. Access to the Android market is supposed to get you ever-lasting fun. It might be true that there are a lot more free apps on Android but they come at a price – malware! Almost all the free applications you use are embedded with ads, especially when they require an internet pack. Apart from that, there are the following issues:

  • Applications are not universal to all phones. Apps built for one device do not work with others.
  • Apps are full of security holes. You will notice it when all your data gets used up automatically by an app running in the background.
  • Apps even if they work tend to be slow at times. Why? Because they were not designed to a specific architecture or model.
  • Free apps are loaded with ads that bring down performance and make your experience worse

There are several apps that are full of malware and ads

This means that out of the 300,000 apps available, most of them are not compatible with your phone and many will be loaded with malware. With what's left, you will eventually get bored.

3. All that power gone to waste

Android phones are built on powerful processors, many of them having a clock speed of at least 1 GHz and 512 MB RAM. Some even have dedicated GPUs. Now, the technical specs sound great, but what's the big deal if it is not going to be of any use?

Sure, there are several benchmarks that show Android phones doing great in the graphics department, but at the end of the day, will it actually convert to something? No.

A good example would be to consider the same games in both Android and iOS, like Fruit Ninja.

Fruit Ninja on the Android is not as great as the other versions

The game costs the same but looks better and runs better on the iPhone and also on Symbian. You might want to have a look at the videos of both games to get a better idea.

The iPhone comes out on top even when it is put up against a more powerful dual-core processor. It's not just Fruit Ninja. High end games are few and rare on Android and only high-end phones will support them. Tegra 2 which is supposedly the most powerful Android GPU, has only about 15 games which do not work on any other phones, even if they are dual core.

Now, if you cannot play games on an Android even when it has a dual-core processor, what's the point?

4. Android is cheap? Not really.

"My Android phone is cheap. I get a great camera with HD recording, 3G connectivity, GPS, video calls, games, applications for a great price"

Again, you have been fooled by marketing gimmicks. Your phone has some great features but there will be at least one device out there that doesn't run Android which costs less.

For example, consider the following:

  1. Motorola DEFY – 5MP Camera, 720p recording, HSDPA, GPS, 800 MHz processor
  2. SE Vivaz U5i – 8 MP Camera, 720p recoding, HSDPA, GPS, 720 MHz processor

The DEFY costs INR 15,400 and the Vivaz costs INR 11000. I would say the latter is better. You get most of the features of the first phone and some kickass battery life. All you need to do is compromise on the Android factor.

Sure, there are cheaper Android phones that start at the price of Rs. 7000 but you will not get a good touch screen, and you won't get Flash support in the browser. There won't get a good camera, and you may not get to play games like Angry Birds. And suddenly all the plus points are gone.

5. Too much tweaking required

The Android OS is not perfect and it requires a lot of tweaking for you to get the most out of it. Official upgrades are few and rare and if you need to get things in line right away, you will have to root your phone and install a custom ROM which in itself can be really tedious for new users.

Application crash

Memory management can be a issue on Android and there frequent crashes will leave you thinking if Windows is better. So, unless you do some research and root your phone, you're probably going to end up using a phone that will restart pretty often.

Conclusion – Why go to all the trouble?

No Android

You want a great phone. But don't go for all the trouble just to use Android? Poor battery life, application incompatibility and OS crashes just make Android really less worthy.

If you are after the camera, you should know that you can get great digital cameras with full HD video recording for INR 8000. And the quality on your cell phone will never compare to that of your digicam.

At the end of the day, things will boil down to whether your phone has good battery life, has a decent camera and a good browser. You will be able to find all these in other phones as well. Games are not great in droids, and you must go for the iPhone if you are a serious gamer.

But the rest of you can have a look at Symbian phones or Bada phones that fall well into your budget and pack a lot of punch. At least they are good at what they do.

Sure, Android has its upsides, but they do not make up for the disadvantages. So, make a smart move before buying your next phone.

(By Ramesh)

Post from: Killer Tech Tips

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Get An Android Phone

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