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    Are your kids safe online?

    As a mum, I worry.  I worry that I may not be feeding my children the absolute best diet.  I worry that they aren’t getting enough exercise. I worry that I am not teaching them enough home-making skills to survive in the big bad world by themselves.  But one of the things I worry about most is if they are safe online.  I hear so many horror stories about what can happen to kids, and I hope that I have made my kids safe enough that they won’t end up a statistic.  Here are some of the things I have done.

     

    1. Facebook

    This is the big one,  “everyone” is on Facebook.  Facebook has rules that say that only people over the age of 15 can register, but it isn’t hard to change the year of birth and get an account.  I actually have done this over the years for all three of my kids, but I have some pretty big rules.  Firstly, until they were 15 (the age they can set up their own account) I know their password.  That way if anything comes up that concerns me, I can log into their account and see everything that is set to private.  Secondly, they are not allowed to add adult friends that I am not also friends with on Facebook, that way any interactions will show up on my newsfeed.  They also know that I have complete veto power, and can remove any friends or posts that I find inappropriate.  Thirdly, I have them set to “Close Friends”, and have a notification every time they post. Fourthly, I make sure all their privacy settings are up extremely high.  Their name will not show up in a search, all of their posts are set to friends only, and I go onto their wall and check that it stays that way.  Obviously these are all only small things, but I have found that they have helped, both in the kids knowing they are accountable, and in nipping things in the bud before they escalate.

     

    2. Email

    We have our own domain, so under that domain we have created an email address for each of the kids.  Same deal as Facebook, I have the password (I set it up), but I take it a step further.  I have my email program set to download a copy of each of their emails (leaving a copy on the server so that they still get it).  I do not read MOST of their emails.  I think it is important for the kids to have their privacy, but if something looks suspicious then I ask them about it.  This is also a great way to know if they are signing up for lots of dodgy sites, because they’re the ones that sell their email addresses off for spammers to use.

     

    3. Web History

    I will sit down randomly at the kids’ computers and check, as much as possible, where they have been.  This doesn’t just mean I look at their history, I also type each letter of the alphabet into the address bar of their web browser and look at what comes up.  If their history is suspiciously clear, I talk to them about it.

     

    4. Webcams

    These absolutely terrify me.  I do not let them in my house, except where they are attached to laptops, and then I get Michael to disable them.  We don’t have long distance relatives that we would Skype, so it’s pretty easy to ban them, but if we did, the webcam would only ever be on my computer, and I would disable it after use.  These can be used for bad so much more than for good, and hearing stories about kids that have been cajoled into doing things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise makes me stand firm in my ban.

     

    5. Chat Sites

    You hear countless stories of paedophiles posing as kids talking to our children, getting them into a false sense of security, then using that trust to get what they want.  Now this doesn’t mean that every kid your child talks to online is bad, but they need to be aware.  Tell them explicitly to never give out personal information such as full name, address, suburb, school, or favourite places to hang out.  Make sure their user name doesn’t identify them either.  And never share photos.

     

    6. Conversations

    I talk to my kids.  I ask them what they’re looking at online.  I show interest in the things that interest them and enjoy spending time watching internet sensations like Rhett & Link [ http://rhettandlink.com/ ] or Tobuscus [ http://www.youtube.com/user/Tobuscus ]

    I also talk to them and ask direct questions.  Have you found yourself on sites that you think you shouldn’t have been?  Have you been on pages where you would shut the computer if you heard me coming?

     

    As I said, I worry for our kids, but as you put their seat belts on when they get in the car, or you teach them road rules so they can use the road safely, I think that setting them up with clear rules & guidelines from the start will make them less likely to end up in situations out of their control.

    Google is the New Yellow Pages

    I attended a seminar today, that was titled Google is the new Yellow Pages.  Sounds like something that you would be totally sceptical about, until you think it through.  When was the last time you actually picked up the Yellow Pages?

    Melbourne SEO Services did a survey of people walking around Melbourne, and found some really interesting statistics.  Firstly, 100% of the people interviewed use Google every day! And 53.85% of people interviewed never use the Yellow pages.

     

    So instead of using American statistics and thinking “well Australia is different to the US”, now I am faced with the cold hard facts, Australia uses Google too!

    We have recently cancelled our Yellow Pages advertising, and this has made us really nervous.  We have been in business for 9 years, and without the Yellow Pages, we wouldn’t exist. But it’s time to break the chains.  Why pay through the nose for a medium that no longer even pays for itself?  And why work twice as hard for Yellow Pages, when you could work twice as hard for yourself.

    This of course leads into the question, how do I make sure that I am found on Google?

    Well that’s where I come in, and really, I have spent so much time over the last few months answering this question for other people, I haven’t invested the time into answering it for our business.  So now it’s time to make sure that I keep up with the housekeeping.  To take a fine tooth comb to my website,visit it as if I was a potential client trying to decide whether to use us, instead of making sure that it says everything I think it should say. To make sure that the keywords that I thought were so important are still valid, and that they will actually set us apart from the competition.  And to start blogging, REGULARLY.  It has been proven that Google likes fresh content, so I need to provide that.  And by providing that, then that in itself will make people visit my site more!  So really it’s a win-win.

     

    So please, help us out with this.  If you read something on our site that seems outdated or unnecessary, please contact us   If there is a question that you have been looking for the right place to ask, ask me, email me laura@acrossthecoast.com.au or call me on 0413 318 837. And if you see one of us in person, ask us if it has been too long between blog posts.  Michael and I started this business to help other computer users in simple & easy to use ways, and we plan to continue doing this for many years to come!

     

    Be alert but not alarmed

    So you have heard the news today that at 2pm there is going to be a major virus released that is going to crash the internet!

    The Australian Government have set up a site to check your computer, you can visit http://dns-ok.gov.au/ to see if you are likely to be affected, if it says that you may be at risk, please call us 02 4385 4012

     

    But really, shouldn’t you already be protected?

    Every computer that connects to the internet should have virus & spyware protection.  You can pay big dollars for a specialised program, that we really think is a waste of money, or you can download the software from Microsoft (click here) that is included in your software purchases.  We recommend Microsoft Security Essentials, you have paid for it anyway when you have purchased Windows, and Microsoft know Microsoft products, we use Security Essentials for the same reason that people take their Toyota back to the Toyota Dealership for servicing.

     

    So here’s my list of how to prepare for the big virus release:

    1.  Make sure that you have virus and spyware protection software installed on your computer, and that it is turned on.

    2.  Make sure that the virus and spyware protection software is up to date.  You can do this by opening the program and checking for updates.  Updating your virus program is essential, new viruses are invented daily, and there are different ways to find and clean up each of these viruses.  If you have out of date definitions, your virus program may not be able to detect the latest threats.

    3.  Avoid the danger websites.  This pretty much means, if you don’t know that the website is from a trusted source, close your web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, etc).  Do not click on links to download anything if you are not completely sure that the site is legitimate.  And always scan any downloads with your virus program before you open them, even if they come from a reputable source.  Hackers love to go to reputable sites and add little nasties to programs that you think you can trust.  It also means that you should try to avoid sites like internet gambling and pornography.

    4.  Do not open an email unless you know who sent it to you.  Do not even open it to find out how to unsubscribe.  Most often, spam is just sent to random email addresses.  As soon as you open the email & let it open the images so you can read the email, it sends a message back to the sender to say that the email has been opened, thereby proving it was sent to a legitimate email address.  If you click the link to unsubscribe, this also proves that it is a real address and can actually make you get more spam from the sender, rather than less.  Sending a reply to unsubscribe from an email sends through your personal information that you set up in your email program, giving the spammers your contact details such as your full name.

    5. Never open an email attachment unless you are sure that you wanted the sender to send it to you.  Attachments can be programs that work their way into your system and cause major damage, including loss of important files & settings.

     

    If you are really worried about the virus threat, turn off your computer.  You can’t get a virus if your computer is off.

    Website Building-what I want to do when I grow up!

    In school, especially in the last few years, teachers, parents and almost any adult you speak to asks the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  I never knew the answer.  At least not what they wanted to hear….

    I knew that I wanted to be a mum.  I knew that raising a family would be one of my life’s great achievements.  As to how I would afford to pay for said family, that was another matter.  There are a lot of things that I am good at, but I have always thought that you should, wherever possible, love your job.

    When we started MR LCD (before we changed the name to Across the Coast), my part in it was born of a desire to not go back to work.  To be able to be there for my kids before & after school, and during holidays and sick days.  I love doing all the admin work behind the scenes.  And having such a small role was so beneficial when the pain that I had since a teenager went from painful to constant agony, it meant that the bare minimum I was able to do was enough to keep the business afloat.  Now however, since my operations, I am feeling amazing, and the bare minimum is just not satisfying.  So then Michael and I had many long discussions on how I could do more to contribute to the business, and if my contributions actually brought in money, rather than just saving us money, then that would be brilliant.  We looked at a lot of different options, including using my talent for simple explanations to help our customers with training, and while I enjoyed this, it wasn’t “the thing” I was looking for.  Then, as a side hobby, I decided to start selling some handmade things I planned to make.  To do this, I thought the best way was to build a website, so www.timeywimeystuff.com was created, and I thought it was quick and easy.  Then, I started talking to Michael, who I always defer to on all things technical, and all of a sudden I knew things he didn’t!  I then moved on to fix our website for MR LCD, things that had never been created properly, or that were bugging me from when we asked someone to build it a few years before. Then I was able to quickly & easily help Michael with an issue he had on website he was working on, one that he had been trying to fix for a while.

    BUT it wasn’t until we sat down with Belinda Jackson as part of her Diamond Coaching program, and she suggested that we start offering websites as an additional service, that I even considered that this could be my role in the business.  After a training day to see what I already knew, and to learn some new skills, Michael and I decided that we would start offering websites!  Nervously I let everyone know, and the reaction was fantastic.  Thanks to the reliability and service that Michael has offered on behalf of our business for over 8 years, our customers knew that they could rely on us, and knew that we wouldn’t offer something that we didn’t believe was of a high standard.

    So now, that’s my full time job.  And I am LOVING IT!!!

    I really had no idea how much I would enjoy it.  How much making little changes to the settings, and watching it load on the website would excite me.  To be able to listen to customers and make up for them what they have envisioned for their site, even when my ideas are so different to theirs, and to create a product that they are pleased to have their name on.  Now I know what they say by find a job you love, because it just makes it such a joy to do the work.

    So to my high school teachers, I am sorry I couldn’t give you an answer, but really, websites didn’t exist in 1993, so how was I meant to know what I wanted to do with my life??

    Across The Coast May 2012 Newsletter

    Hi Welcome to the first edition of the new look Across The Coast newsletter.
    We have had such a great reaction to the new name, it was hard after 7 years to stop calling ourselves MR LCD, but we are getting used to it.
    There has also been such a great response to Across The Coast offering website services, and our first website www.wca.org.au went live this week.

    Why do I need a web presence? And what is a web presence anyway?
    Image I think there are a lot of businesses that spend a lot on marketing & advertising, but they are missing a huge tool that once setup, can be very cheap to maintain.
    If you compare how much it costs to do a run of 1,000 pamphlets, which then go out to every house in the area.  You don’t know how many of the people who get your pamphlet even look at it, or how many are looking for your services at that exact moment.
    Read More

    Article Two
    Image         Email spammers are having to work hard these days, a lot more people are aware of how to spot a fake email.  My top three tips are: 1. If you have never dealt with the person or company and have no reason why they would be emailing you, assume it is spam and delete it. Lately I have been getting emails about my police record, but since I know I don’t have a criminal record, I delete them straight away. 2. If you have dealt with the person or company, and have opened the email to read it, look for spelling and grammar errors.  I have received emails from the Commenwealth Bank, so the misspelt Commonwealth gives that away. 3. If you have opened it, and are still not convinced, before you click on the link, just hover your mouse pointer over it, which will, depending on your mail program, pop up a little box showing where the link will take you.  If it doesn’t match where they tell you, or if it adds anything before the site, do not click it.

    Article Three
    ImageMichael had to make the awful phone call this morning to let a customer know that to *attempt* to recover the years of business data from their failed hard drive, it was going to cost over $2,500. Please make sure that you have a backup system in place, whether it’s for business data, or all your precious photos. We have external hard drives in stock if you need them, Michael can come & install it for you, and set you up with a really simple backup system for $220
    Read More

    So to start blogging

    Today, I am committing to start blogging, so stay tuned for updates on lots of relevant posts about computer repairs, upgrades, service and website building!

    MR LCD is now Across The Coast

    From today, 14th February 2012, MR LCD will be changing our name to Across The Coast. It will be the same great service that you have come to expect from Michael and Laura, but with a new name!

    As a part of the big changes, we are now going to be offering some new services to our customers who are involved with running a
    business. So please read on if that’s you (and if not, we’d love it if you could pass this on to any friends or family you have that may run a business)

    Does your business have an online presence? Do you want to appear more reputable and generate more buyers by having a website personalised for your business? Or if you already have a website, is it generating regular enquiries for you?

    If you know this is an area of your business that could be improved then I’ve come up with the perfect solution to reach out and offer my help.

    I’m opening up just 10 spots to consult with me — at no cost, my treat! — for 30 minutes.

    Join me for a “Website Opportunities Review Session” where I’ll walk you through:

    * A review of your current online presence
    * Analysis of your current Google results
    * Simple ways to reach more customers by utilising the internet

    ****************************
    So WHY am I doing this?

    ****************************

    Since having major surgery in 2011 to release the nerves that were trapped in both my elbows, I have had a relief from the agonising
    pain that I was living with constantly.
    This has freed me up to spend more time working closely with Michael in our business and further supporting and servicing our valued clients. I have always been on top of our online presence, and want to use that knowledge to help our customers to build their businesses through the internet.

    But time in my diary is limited so I can only offer 10
    spots. Does one have your name on it?

    ********************
    HERE’S HOW TO APPLY
    ********************

    Simply hit reply and answer these simple questions, or click here to fill out the form online
    IMPORTANT: You must answer ALL the questions.

    These questions are so I can ensure the session suits you
    & is focused on you and your online opportunities.

    1. Do you already have a website?
    What is its’ URL?

    2. When it comes to your business, what do you need the most
    help with? (Choose the top two)

    – Creating a website

    – Making sure your website reaches your intended audience

    – Using the right words & phrases to make sure your website is found

    – Getting additional leads from your existing site

    – Making sure your website accurately represents your brand

    – Other (if other, what is it?)

    3. What is the #1 obstacle that you’re struggling with in getting
    your Business online?

    4. How would you like your online presence to look in 6
    months time, or by the end of 2012?

    Please also include your name & contact details (email
    & phone) so we can get in touch with you.

    ****************************
    The Fine Print

    * The sessions will take place within the next 3 weeks

    * Each session is 30 minutes.

    * Send your request by email with your answers before by end
    of day TUESDAY, 21st February.

    * That’s it!

    ****************************

    So if a Website Opportunities Review could set you on the
    right track, I encourage you to take action and reply.

    To Your Online Success,

    Laura Drummond

    PS I can only offer 10 Website Opportunities Review Sessions
    at this time. So please get your email application back to me by end of day Tuesday, 21st February OR EARLIER.

    MR LCD changes to Across The Coast

    After 8 years of providing reliable computer service to the Central Coast of NSW, we have decided to change our name from MR LCD to Across The Coast.

    With the changes in technology, and the new services that we will be offering, we feel that the name MR LCD no longer reflects everything that we can offer you.

    We promise the same great service that you have come to expect from Michael and Laura, but with a new name.

     

    Welcome to Across The Coast