Phishing: Don't Take the Bait

Posted Posted by Sam Tripp in , Comments 0 comments

    As the weather cools and holiday season approaches, my mind turns to the same place as everyone else's this time of year: phishing scams. Okay, maybe not everyone is thinking about this, but they should be, or at least be wary of the emails that end up in their inbox. While this type of scam definitely doesn't only occur during this time of year, scammers may try and step things up as people order various goods online. So what is a phishing scam? It is a type of scam where the scammer sends an email posing as a well-known, trusted company in order to get private information such as passwords, social security numbers, bank information, etc. from the unsuspecting public. Now the thing to remember about this type of scam is that they cannot get any information from you that you do not give them yourself. So how do you recognize if an email is legitimate or not? Below are a few things to look for in your emails before entering your credentials.

1. Spelling and grammar mistakes
    Any large, well-established company sending out mass emails will typically not have any spelling or grammatical errors in the emails they send to you. They specifically hire people to try and make their messages to you as complete and as professional as possible. Therefore, when you do catch these sorts of mistakes, it may be a red flag about the sender of the email. It is definitely possible that the company made a mistake--don't dismiss the email completely from a typo--but if an email is riddled with mistakes you definitely have cause to be cautious.

2. Don't trust the blue hyperlinks
    As the picture below shows, just because something is blue and underlined does not mean it is taking you to that location. You can write any text and have it link to any page you want. There are a couple of things you can do to watch out for this. First of all, you can move your mouse over the link without clicking it. A tool-tip should appear with the URL to where that link will lead. If they are different, you have cause to be suspicious (see picture below). If you do end up clicking on the link, make sure the URL on the page it takes you is the one you were expecting. Scammers often go to great lengths to ensure the fake page they created matches exactly the page that you are expecting. They don't have total control over the URL, however, so make sure if you are expecting to end up on Facebook that the URL reads and so on.

Phishing scams masked web address

3. Find out the truth for yourself
    Often the scammers will tell you things such as your password has expired, there's been trouble with your account, etc. They will often also give some sort of ultimatum or warning that if you don't do anything, you or your account could be in trouble. So one thing you can do is to check out if what they're saying is true. If they say your password has expired, go to the website it expired for without clicking the link and log in to the page you know is secure. If it works, then someone was very likely trying to scam you. You can also email or call the business from information provided on their websites to double-check that the email is legitimate to see if your account really does have a problem. Make sure to do a little digging before entering any sensitive information!

What Gaming Console is the Best for YOU?

Posted Posted by Drew Locke in Comments 0 comments

There has been great hype with the newest generation of gaming consoles. The Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U have all brought new innovation to the gaming community. There have been a lot of fiery debates on many a forum with iron clad fans trying to prove that “their” console is the best. Therefore, the goal of this comparison is to be completely unbiased and to give the facts and benefits of each console with opinions put aside.

So! Let’s get started with the knitty gritty specs of each console!

CPU(Central Processing Unit):
Single-chip x86 AMD "Jaguar" processor, 8 cores @ 1.6Ghz
Xbox One:
Single-chip x86 AMD "Jaguar" processor, 8 cores @ 1.75Ghz
Wii U:
PowerPC "Espresso", 3 cores @ 1.2Ghz

As seen above, the PS4 and the Xbox One both have very similar processing power, with the Xbox One slightly in the lead, while the Wii U has considerably less processing that seems to be more level with the past generation PS3 and Xbox 360. Xbox and PS4 have the highest processing rate which makes sense because Xbox is known for its multimedia and multitasking and the PS4 is known for its hardcore complex games.
You may want to laugh in the face of Nintendo for their relatively low processing rate, however, it should be noted that Nintendo uses an out-of-order instruction process allowing for more efficient operations. Also the Nintendo is known for simple and easy to play game design so the very high CPU isn't entirely necessary.

GPU(Graphics Processing Unit):
800 Mhz AMD GPU with 1152 shaders, 1.84 TeraFLOPS
Xbox One:
853 MHz AMD GPU with 768 shaders, 1.31 TeraFLOPS
Wii U:
550 MHz AMD GPU with 320 shaders, 0.352 TeraFLOPS

The best out of the three consoles in this aspect is clearly the PS4. It has much more performance and shader units than the Xbox One. The Wii U is obviously in third place, however, one can argue that the games have a more cartoon animated style that doesn't need as much texturing.

RAM(Random Access Memory)
Xbox One:
Wii U:

PS4 also takes the lead in this category; the GDDR5 RAM is what is commonly used in PC graphics cards which allows for even more complex and better looking games. The Xbox tries to catch up by adding the ESRAM, however, with how small the size is it still isn't up to par with the PS4. Because RAM allows for complex games, more textures, and more multitasking the Wii U has much less RAM because it doesn't focus in any three of those categories, but the games could be limited because of this fact.

Controllers are a subject where the Wii U actually takes the lead in innovation. Nintendo has always been ahead of other companies as far as their gaming controllers go. The Wii U doesn't disappoint with a tablet based controller: the Wii U GamePad. This GamePad adds a lot of functionality to games where it can include the GamePad screen into the gaming interface.  You also have the option to play the game on the tablet controller rather than the TV. This function is great if your roommate wants to watch something on your TV. You can just switch over to the tablet and your roommate can watch their show! It should be noted that the other consoles can also do this, but unlike the Wii U , the handheld devices do not come with the initial purchase of the console.

The PS4 controller has a very similar design as previous generations. However, It has some pretty cool new features like a ‘share’ button for uploading in-game screenshots and video, a touch pad for fine control, and a mono speaker and headphone jack.

The Xbox controller as you can see looks extremely similar to previous designs. The new additions to the control include a ‘view’ button for switching between apps and a less bulky battery pack. The Xbox does still require AA batteries rather than having a USB rechargeable battery seen on PS4 and Wii U controllers.

Backwards Compatibility
The Wii U is the only console at the moment that supports games from its previous generation: the Wii. Xbox and PS4 both do not have backwards compatibility, which has been a turnoff for many people. However, the PS4 is currently in the Beta stages on their new way of streaming older generation’s games through the internet. It should be coming out sometime in 2015. The problems would be that you might have to pay for games that you already own and that internet is required to play those games.

Online Gameplay
All of the devices support online play. The Wii U provides the only online service that is free of charge. The PS4 requires membership to “PlayStation Plus” and Xbox continues their subscription to “Xbox Live” in order to play online.

And… Most importantly… PRICES!
Xbox One (including kinect) ---> $499.99
Ps4 -----------------------------------> $399.99
Wii U (Bundle) --------------------> $299.99

So which console should you get?
The choice of which console to buy is completely decided by what you are looking for in a gaming system. If you are looking for a hardcore gaming experience with complex and visually pleasing games that require the newest technology, then the PS4 is for you. If you are looking for an all encompassing multimedia center than the Xbox is a great choice. And finally, if you are looking for a family oriented, fun, simple and cheap console than the Wii U is your best bet.

Personally, my view on the quality of a console isn't the console itself. It is the games that it provides. Follow the games that you like!

If you own any of these consoles and want to share your input feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Preventative Maintenance for Computers

Posted Posted by Emily Strandvold in Comments 0 comments

Having computer problems? Feel free to come by our DormNet help desk for some help! But how do you keep from having problems? Here are some preventative measures for keeping your computer problem free for longer.

First, there are several ways to physically maintain your computer. Heat and moisture are the two worst things for your computer. Heat can be lessened in more ways than just making sure you don't leave your computer in a hot car. Be sure to keep the outside of your computer dust free so the vents and fans don't get clogged. When cleaning your computer, use lint-free wipes and compressed air and always turn off and unplug your computer. Moisture is a little harder to prevent since we live in a humid state. Keep your computer away from windows that can fog up and drip water on your computer as well as open drinks that can easily spill.

Software is another mandatory route if you want preventative maintenance. A good antivirus is a great place to start. Harding enforces this good habit by requiring all computers to have antivirus in order to get on their network. But beware, antivirus can become more of a problem than a help when you have multiple of them. Taking all but one off will help your computer look out for trouble and not fight against itself. Another set of software that is good for preventative maintenance is spyware and malware scanners. Scanning your computer on a regular basis with these scans or with your antivirus scans can help viruses be found and then be quickly removed. Lastly, having an up to date computer is very important. If you have a PC set Windows Updates to automatic and for all computers keep your system updated. 

Another thing that is a good idea for your computer is to back it up in case something does happen. Putting all your files on an external drive or on the cloud will make sure that they are saved even if your computer stops working. 

These may seem like simple things to do, but if you stay on top of them your computer is more likely to work longer and better. If you have any questions on how to do any of these things or need antivirus or malware and spyware scanners come by the DormNet help desk on the second floor of the Admin building and we will help you with preventative maintenance for your computer.

Apps Us College Students Can't Live Without

Posted Posted by Jenna Hayes in , Comments 0 comments

Whether we want to admit it or not, there are certain apps that we could not survive without. Apps are out there to make our lives easier, more efficient, and more entertaining. We quite literally have the world at our fingertips when it comes to the different apps we have access too. Here are a few in particular that have become such an important part of our daily college lives.

1. Twitter
I personally am not a user of this app, but I hear enough about it to know how widespread it is. Twitter is an online social networking site that allows users to send and read 140 character "tweets". These tweets can be pretty much about anything... jokes, feelings, the weather... whatever is on your mind. For many people, it's a way to stay "connected" to their favorite celebrities or "tweeters" who have an exceptional gift of humor. Don't forget, how would we maintain our infamous HU chapel tweets without Twitter. Obviously and much need app.

Ok, maybe this one is more for the ladies. This popular picture app just may be the cause of Facebook's continuing decline. Basically, Instagram is a way to portray your life through pictures and their attached captions. We use it to document important events, birthdays, and pictures that we think we look great in (if we're being honest).

3. YouTube
Most of us grew up watching various YouTube videos, but now having it handy on our phones has made life more... entertaining. We use this large video app to look up songs, cat videos, or whatever else it is we find entertaining. This one is definitely a big time killer.
4. Canvas
This is a handy app when we decide we need to actually get some work done. For most of us, our classes work through Canvas to post grades, turn in assignments, take quizzes,etc. Checking this app frequently allows us to stay on top of grades and make sure assignments get submitted on time.

5. Square Wallet
From what I know, this particular app is not widely used... but perhaps it should be. Using your stored credit card information, the app lets you check in at a restaurant and simply pay by giving the cashier your name. No need to pull our your wallet or even your phone. The cashier knows who you were because your picture, which is stored in the app, pops up on the register. (One problem: the registers has to be running the Square Wallet app as well). You could even set up the app to automatically "check you in" when you were close to your favorite stores. This is one of those apps where its a great idea but won't really take off until it becomes more widespread.

Being the technologically dependent generation that we are, we have come to rely on many different apps just to get us through the day. Happy apping!