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Hi Alliance Internet Subscribers
This month begins a new year filled with new possibilities and this issue contains content to help you in this journey of discovery. First, you'll find an explanation of the criminal use of botnets including what you should do to protect your computer. We also share the history and organizational methods behind flash mobs—the public events (such as singing or dancing) that seem to spring up out of nowhere. If 2011 is your year to join Facebook, check out the tutorial for a guide to creating an account and profile. And if you're looking for resources to inspire you in the areas of cooking, travel, home decorating, or money management, you'll find them in Great Sites.
The goal of each of our eNewsletters is to keep our subscribers informed regarding their Internet connection and to improve their Internet experience. We think you'll find this information interesting.
To see what's inside this issue, simply scroll down the eNewsletter or click on the links within the index to the left. Thanks for reading!
- The Alliance Internet Team
In the most recent Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, the company warns that computers with older operating systems are more susceptible to infections from bot-related malware. What is a bot? The term is short for robot. It refers to what your computer becomes when criminals distribute malicious software that forces your computer to perform automated tasks over the Internet—without you knowing it. Large numbers of bots form a network called a botnet.
Criminals use botnets to send out spam e-mail messages, spread viruses, attack computers and servers, and commit other kinds of crime and fraud. It can be difficult to tell if your computer has become part of a botnet but there are warning signs including:
To strengthen your computer's defenses in the battle against botnets, Microsoft recommends the following:
For more information on Paperless BIlling from Alliance, click here!
Question: Sometimes I see stories in the news about a flash mob, like the people who break into song in a shopping center. I'm curious—when did flash mobs get started and how are they organized?
Answer: A flash mob is defined as a large group of people who gather at a public place to perform a pre-defined action—often a brief song or dance—and then disperse rapidly afterwards.
The first "official" flash mob was attempted in Manhattan in May 2003 (the early days of social media) and organized by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper's Magazine. It was unsuccessful after the targeted retail store, Macy's, was tipped off about the plan for people to gather. Wasik avoided such problems during the second flash mob, which occurred one month later, by sending participants to preliminary staging areas where they received further instructions about the event and location just before the flash mob began.
Flash mobs are generally organized via social media or viral e-mails. Potential participants receive all necessary instructions including the date, time, and meeting point in the real world, as well as the action to perform. A video of the required dance moves, for example, may be posted for participants to review.
Click on the triangle in the picture above to play a video of a recent flash mob where holiday shoppers in a food court were surprised with a song to go with their sandwiches.
Recipes for Foodies
www.publicradio.org – Each week, the American Public Media radio show, The Splendid Table, offers recipes and tips "for people who love to eat." Their website features recipes in categories including comfort, inexpensive, seafood, vegetarian, grilling, and holidays. Explore the rest of the site to hear recordings of the show, read tips and wine picks, and find great places to eat in your state.
www.unusualhotelsoftheworld.com – This site is called Unusual Hotels of the World and the name says it all. Here you'll find out about ice hotels, undersea lodges, castles, boats, treehouses, and lighthouses—all of which are places you can stay! Search by type of hotel, type of experience (wild, family, romance), or destination. You're sure to find a unique place to spend your next vacation.
Home Decorating Guide
www.sunset.com – Looking for some new decorating ideas for the new year? This site is a great place to start. You'll find key decorating strategies, paint and shelving ideas, and pointers for decorating with travel treasures or your favorite photos. Look for tutorials on topics like "How to Paint Like a Pro." Or try a DIY (do-it-yourself) project like making over a dresser, designing your own painted glassware, or creating a designer bouquet.
National Recreation Information
www.recreation.gov – Recreation.gov provides access to information about federal recreational activities and reservations. You can use it to discover parks, forests, museums, and other destinations near your home; plan a trip to other areas of the country; make reservations for activities like picnicking, camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and boating; or book a tour at any one of a number of stunning national parks and monuments.
Financial Planning How-to
www.fpanet.org – The new year is a good time to take a new look at your finances. The Financial Planning Association promotes financial well-being by connecting financial planners with those who need their assistance. This website includes loads of information on planning for specific life events (such as retirement or marriage), coping with a disaster (such as loss of a home or job), and choosing a financial planner. You can also find helpful tools and resources or ask a financial planning question.
Facebook now has more than 500 million active users and half of them log on to Facebook in any given day. In total, the site reports that people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. If you're not yet part of this group of 500 million, it's easy to join. Simply follow the steps below to create a Facebook account and profile.
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