We all trust cloud-based file storage services to keep our data safe from prying eyes, right? Maybe we shouldn’t. In the summer of 2015, an exploit was discovered that let baddies get into Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive accounts without knowing your password. As the ZDNet story about the problem pointed out, “The so-called ‘man-in-the-cloud’ attack is said to be a common flaw in most cloud-based file synchronization services.”
Of course, that particular security hole has been closed by now — we hope. But even if it has, another one always seems to come along. So it’s probably a good idea to encrypt any information we store in the cloud, especially since it’s easy to do — and free, as well.
You have a webcam, either built into your laptop or on top of your monitor. You are producing recorded online video chats using tools like Zoom or possibly Skype + Evaer. Or maybe you are using online videoconferencing for business meetings, wherein your professional demeanor carries weight. One way or another, you’re aware of the importance of showing yourself to best advantage.
But in your online conversations, what are you using for sound? The microphone built into your webcam or laptop? That can leave your voice sounding muddy, rather than clear and easy to understand. We need a better microphone for online video conversations, and a nice pair of headphones might be good, too. So let’s choose the best affordable sound choices available today.
My dog Terri and I were writing a story for the (fictitious) “HumansAreNice.org” website, when she accidentally wiped out half of the text she had written while she was working on her second draft. We (by which I mean I, because I have opposable thumbs) were using Google Docs because of its vaunted collaboration features. And it has auto-save, so even the dumbest puppy can’t forget to save his work.
Auto-save is a great feature most of the time, but when you inadvertently delete half your story with a single pawstroke— suddenly that auto-save feature is not so good.
So, for instance, imagine that the first draft looked something like this.
You may not have heard of the online video meeting utility called Zoom.us; it’s not a big name like Skype, Hangout, or GoToMeeting. But in my experience, when it comes to hosting and recording remote video conversations, Zoom is the only freebie (as in zero cost) that has good video recording built-in. It’s the easiest video chat recorder to use, too — no matter how much you spend.
To start with Zoom, create a login and log in. You’re prompted to download the Zoom app for your desktop or mobile OS. Don’t worry about compatibility; it sends you the right one automatically. The instructions are obvious; you should be able to figure them out with no hand-holding, as long as you haven’t muted your webcam and headset (or speakers and microphone). In only a few minutes, you see your own smiling face on the screen.