Internet Security:

Whether you are a full-time freelancer or entrepreneur on the go, your hard work -- all the files and data you complete for your client / own business -- is at risk. It could be one spilled coffee on your laptop or one client who saves over the only copy of a file you sent them. Anything could destroy your hours of hard work in a heartbeat.

Here are five tips on how to ensure your work is protected and how to make sure you’re never opening yourself up to a tech disaster.

1. When you're on the road, your data is vulnerable.

Anytime you take your work on the go, you’re opening yourself up to a number of security risks. For example, using a Wi-Fi network that's not secure can mean risking the confidential data your client has entrusted to you. If someone else is able to gain access to this sensitive information, then you’re left responsible for the loss!

What do to: Invest in a personal hotspot that you can password-protect no matter where you are. Check in with your wireless provider and see if you can add this feature to your phone’s existing plan. This way, you know that the Wi-Fi connection you’re using is safe and secure.

2. Your laptop is your lifeline, not your lockbox.

If you’re working anywhere outside your home -- local coffee shop, airport lounge -- then your laptop or tablet, etc. can easily be swiped in seconds, meaning that any confidential information on there is now in the hands of the thief. Also, any projects or work saved only on your laptop could be lost forever. That’s irreplaceable hours of work -- i.e., money! -- that you’re potentially at risk to lose.

What to do: Whenever you take your laptop outside of the house, ensure all the files on it are protected by an external hard drive. In the event of theft, you’ll also want to ensure your passwords aren’t crackable. An easily crackable password contains real words or proper names, has keyboard sequences and has a limited variety of characters.

3. Sharing is not always caring.

If you work with multiple clients, then you’ll undoubtedly need to share your work. But what happens if a collaborator accidentally deletes a file from your cloud storage repository? The work could be gone for good.

What to do: Don’t assume file sharing means file security. Always make sure that you have a copy and multiple versions of any file you send to a client / colleague, in the event that something happens as that asset is passed back-and-forth.

4. Be an entrepreneur with enterprise-level security.

While large enterprises often provide employees with secure file-sharing systems, remote workers / freelancers may not have access to these -- meaning you could accidentally forward a link to a private or client-sensitive file to someone who shouldn’t have access it, violating your client’s privacy.

What to do: The files that you share or transfer should be protected by a password and sent through a private links opposed to a public link. Never send a link that anyone could click on and use to access a file. Just think -- if you accidentally forward the wrong link to the wrong client, you could be jeopardizing their privacy and your own reputation as a responsible partner.

5. Storage does not equal safety.

This is a conversation in need of happening, as a recent survey highlights as a point of confusion for most. If you’re using cloud storage as a substitute for backup, you can easily lose data through accidental deletion, overwriting or by simply forgetting to manually upload files before disaster -- or a security incident -- arises.

What to do: Create a storage safety net with a cloud backup solution. Install software that will continuously and automatically backing up all user files and data and scanning for changes along the way -- no manual dragging and dropping is necessary. An investment will create peace of mind that no piece of work will disappear forever, no matter what happens!

Are you suffering from information addiction? It’s a growing problem as people spend more and more of their time online — and while online tools are amazing, being addicted to checking them can steal most of your day.

You know you’re an information addict if you:

  • Check email, Facebook, news, or some other social network first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
  • Are constantly on your mobile device when you’re away from home/office.
  • Can’t get away from the computer in order to get outside, exercise, or spend time with people while disconnected.
  • Are constantly posting to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or Hihiter texting/emailing, when meeting with other people.
  • Can’t get important work done because you have to check your messages.
  • Feel anxiety if you’re completely disconnected for more than a few minutes.
  • Can’t imagine spending an entire day disconnected.

Now, if none of these seem like a problem for you, even if you do them, then they probably aren’t a problem. But if you see yourself in one or more of these and want to change, this guide is for you.

This survival guide isn’t the ultimate guide to beating an addiction, however — it’s a set of tips and techniques I’ve used to survive the constant pull of the online world.

First Steps

Don’t know where to start? These first steps can be done today.

1. Assess your habits.

What are you addicted to most? When are you most likely to be sucked into your addiction? For the rest of today, and the next several days, keep a handy little piece of paper and a pen/pencil with you, and write down the things you check often, putting a tally mark next to those things each time you check them. A TV news channel? Facebook or Twitter or G+? Pinterest or Reddit? Keep a tally so you know what you’re dealing with.

2. Introduce the pause. Addictions are something we often do automatically, without thinking. Start to break this chain of trigger-habit auto-response by wedging a small pause in between them. When you get the urge to check something you’re addicted to, notice this urge, and pause for just one second. During this pause, simply ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this, and why?” You can then go on to do it, no matter what the answer, but the important thing is having at least the briefest pause.

3. Take a break every hour. Even if you’re stuck on the sites you’re addicted to all day long, take 1o minute breaks once an hour. Set up an hourly reminder on your computer, and when that reminder pops up, get away from the computer. Take a walk for 10 minutes. Stretch. Do some pushups and squats. Clean your messy house. Write in a notebook, or sketch. Talk to someone in person. Drink some water and have a fruit. Meditate. When you come back to the computer, try closing the browser for a few minutes and doing some non-Internet work before going back online.

Changing Habits

Over the long term, you can change your habits. This will take a month or two, so you’ll want to fully commit to a change. Any change done half-assed won’t last.

1. Start with your biggest trigger. Assuming you’ve done the assessment and introduced the pause as recommended above, you should know your most common triggers — the things that cause you to go check something. That might be things like: starting a work task (and wanting to avoid it), getting on a bus/train, waking up, eating, getting a notification on your phone or computer, being bored or stressed, thinking of something you want to look up. Whatever your triggers are, pick the one that happens most. If there are several, just pick one of those randomly.

2. Pick a replacement habit. What do you want to do instead of checking email, Facebook, Twitter or the like? Pick something positive and fun that you can do in 5 minutes every time your most common trigger happens. That might be: reading a few pages of a novel, journaling, doing pushups, taking a walk, drinking water, meditating, writing, painting, practicing a language, writing a letter with paper and pen, etc. You’re going to try to do this every time the habit happens, instead of the actual habit.

3. Do the new habit after the trigger, every time. Don’t allow any exceptions, or you won’t form the habit. A new habit is formed much faster, and more strongly, if you do it extremely consistently after the trigger. If you’re inconsistent, and still do the old habit, you are allowing the old habit to stay in place. Now, just because you miss once or twice doesn’t mean you should give up — just start again and try to be more consistent, figure out why you failed, and plan to beat that obstacle. But set a rule that you’ll allow no exceptions!

4. Use positive public pressure. Having accountability helps. Blogging about your new change, or posting it on Facebook or Twitter (I know, a bit ironic), can help you feel some public accountability. Tell everyone you know that you’re not going to check Facebook (for example) within 15 minutes of starting an important work task. My friend Michael Ellsberg uses negative consequences (something I’ve done in the past as well): if he eats sugar or refined carbs, he has to make a donation to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign (not a good thing for Michael, who is not a Romney supporter). Leverage the power of social media to beat social media.

A Balanced Life

In the long run, it’s good to have an idea of what life would be like if you’re not controlled by an information addiction.

How will you work? What will you be like if you’re not checking things all day? Some things to consider:

  • The goal isn’t to eliminate all information sources and be shut off from the online world. It’s not to throw out your iPhone or laptop. These tools are incredibly useful and powerful — obviously I make my living using them, and they have changed our lives in so many positive ways. The idea is simply not to be controlled by them, and to have a balanced life that includes other activities.
  • Schedule time for non-Internet and non-media activities. That means actually block them off on your schedule. If you want to exercise, block off some time during the week for exercise (even just 30 minutes 3 times a week). Schedule time to spend with your friend and loved ones. Schedule time for a walk in solitude.
  • Work without distractions. Each morning, figure out the 1-3 important things you’re going to get done that day. Do the first one first, before diving into email and online distractions. Shut down your browser if you can. If necessary, do the work somewhere without Internet, or unplug your router and give the router cord to someone to hold for an hour. Turn off all notifications on your computer and mobile device. Close everything but what you need to do your task. Learn to focus.
  • Schedule a limited time for your information sources. How often do you want to check email and Facebook (or other sites)? Pick a time and schedule for using these tools in your life, and set a limit — twice a day for just 15 minutes a session, for example. This limit allows you to use these tools but also have time for other things, and it forces you to decide what’s important within that limit and to use the limited time efficiently.
  • Choose your sources wisely. Cull your information sources and tools to the most important. Sometimes we use things just because everyone else is, but they might not be really adding much to our lives. For example, I deleted my Facebook account last year, and haven’t missed it. My life goes on! You might decide to delete your Instagram or Pinterest account, to save yourself from endless browsing of things that aren’t really important, for example. You might decide to only read 10 really good blogs instead of 50 ones that take up your attention. Your attention matters — you should only give it to the things that make your life better.
  • Get some sleep. A lack of rest makes us less able to focus, and more likely to deviate from a plan of any kind of self-control. It also makes us more likely to be distracted by the Internet, according to a new study. Make rest a priority.

Help employees to achieve a better work-life balance

Happy employees tend to be more productive employees. One way that you as an employer can help staff members to feel happier is by promoting a better work-life balance within the office. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, staff can feel as though they are expected to be connected to the office 24/7.

Not being able to switch off can lead to burn out which in turn leads to additional recruitment costs and an expensive loss of knowledge and expertise to your company. Help to keep these costs down and at the same time increase the motivation and productivity of employees with the following four tips for creating a positive work-life company culture.

1. Encourage employees to take a lunchbreak.

Eating a sandwich at your desk with one hand, whilst using your other hand to type on the keyboard is still a regular sight in Kiwi offices. But does it mean that staff are more productive? It’s questionable whether you are really getting the best out of your staff members if they are glued to their desks for eight hours a day. On the contrary, taking a break, getting some fresh air or taking a brisk walk outside helps staff to recharge their batteries. They will then be able to face the afternoon with renewed energy and focus unlike their colleagues that worked through lunch. These colleagues may well suffer from an unproductive afternoon slump and struggle to stay focused.

As a responsible employer, it makes sense to encourage staff to take lunchbreaks. It’s a great stress reliever, helps to clear the mind and can assist with that creative energy that you want your staff members to have.

2. Consider introducing a four-day week.

Do staff really need to work five days a week? Does it really matter if rather than working the standard five eight-hour days, they work four ten-hour days? Giving employees the freedom and flexibility of a three-day weekend can do wonders for their productivity levels. Furthermore, in the digital modern workplace, it’s possible for most staff to work from home at least some of the time so why not let them? So long as tasks are completed on time and the overall required hours are worked, the benefits to be gained will far outweigh any negatives.

3. Promote flexible working.

A natural progression from the four-day week is a policy of more general flexible working. With flexible working staff can choose to work the hours that suit them – be it early starts or late evenings. Giving staff members some control of their schedules will improve their levels of job satisfaction immeasurably.

4. Invest in technology.

There are many business tools and technologies out there that will help to make the working lives of staff members more manageable. From intranets and collaboration platforms through to workflow management software, the right investment in the right tools will mean that the working lives of your staff will be easier and more productive. As a company it’s worth identifying the issues and problems that your staff face on a daily basis and investing in the business tools that offer solutions.

Improving the work-life balance of employees will have a big impact on your bottom dollar. Happier employees, as well as being more productive, are also less likely to be absent from work and are more likely to be loyal workers that stick around. Help to keep your workers happy by implementing these simple four tips.

How Remote Control Gates Add Value to Your Home

Remote control gates add value to your home in a number of ways. One is the intrinsic value of electric gates and another is how your home stages against others in the neighbourhood. You will either keep up with the neighbours or get ahead in the neighbourhood stakes by having automatic driveway gates installed. Here’s why.

Gated Driveways in Your Neighbourhood

If most driveways in your neighbourhood are gated, then it makes sense to gate yours too! If you are selling your home, yours will look cheap in comparison if your driveway has no gate and the others have. Staging your home by installing automatic gates at the entrance to your driveway will either help it retain its neighbourhood value or even give it added value depending on what the neighbours have!

It’s the old story! You will not sell your home if it looks below the standard of the others around you. It will definitely sell if it looks better. An automatic electric driveway gate can more than pay back its cost in the sales price you get.

Automatic Swing Gates or Electric Sliding Gates?

Automatic swing gates look cool, particularly if you have double gates in a wide driveway. Even single swing gates look good, but electric sliding gates have a certain appeal to many people. A sliding gate gives the impression of added security, even though they may be no more secure than swing gates.

Whether you choose remote control gates that swing or slide across the driveway is immaterial to the value added to your home. Perhaps if all your neighbors have swing gates, then sliding gates might make your home stand out. Maybe not, but what might make your entrance unique is if you install a keypad and intercom system to increase the security of the property.

Authorizing Entry Through Remote Control Gates

Only those with the key code can enter - the others have to use the intercom to announce themselves. You can issue temporary key codes to expected visitors or even disable the system altogether if you are having a party or some other function. There are many other ways of permitting access to an automated gate system, some of which are:

  • By means of a presspad or button attached to a post near the gate.
  • Remote control gates can be operated by means of a button inside your car, or even attached to your key ring.
  • By means of a permanent radio signal coming from your car - this is detected by a sensor when your vehicle approaches and the gate opens automatically. It also closes once your car has passed through.
  • By a button in your home. An intercom message or buzzer can be activated to alert anybody at home, who can then press a button that opens and closes the automatic gate.

No doubt there will come a time when your eye is scanned as you approach the gate, or some other biometric system can be used - the technology is available now, but not yet for your driveway! There would be too many issues regarding who can and cannot open your biometrically controlled automatic driveway gate!

Maximum Security Remote Control Gates

Technology is available to maximize the security of your automatic driveway gate. Electric gates and other forms of remote control driveway gates can be opened by security personnel from a gatehouse, although that is perhaps too extreme for normal residential properties. However, you can have CCTV installed, so you can get a visual on who is seeking entrance and even time and record visitor activity.

However, for most domestic situations, all you need is an electric gate: an automatic driveway gate that can be opened and closed by means of a signal from your key or your car, or even by means of a push button or keypad. This is enough to prevent unwanted visitors or stray animals from getting onto your property.

Remote Control Gates: Summary

You can easily increase the value of your home by installing remote control gates at the entrance to your drive. Automatic driveway gates offer many advantages, such as security from unwanted visitors, preventing animals such as dogs wandering onto your property and they also add value to your home.

Many people install electric gates when staging their home for sale - the added value can be significantly greater than their cost. This is not only for the increase in security, but also because remote control gates make the entrance to your property look better with a consequent increase in equity.