New opportunities for internet use are popping up online every day, as are potential problems to be aware of
COVID-19 has changed our world dramatically, and the impact may last for years to come. But life has and will go on, and we will have to adapt and perhaps change the way we do things. For now, we’re all trying to practice healthy “social distancing”. But with our technology devices and tools, we can stay in touch, work from home, and weather home isolation better than we could have imagined. The internet and our cellphones make a huge difference. Access to the world wide web has become an essential resource.
While “social distancing” can’t substitute for cuddles, it can bring us together face-to-face. I video chat regularly with my family in Germany, Zambia, and New Jersey with Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger. It’s important to call friends and family more often, especially the elderly, whom we want to keep safe physically and mentally. Why don’t you try cheering yourself and others up by playing an online game together like Scrabble, Bingo, Hearts, or even Dungeons and Dragons. And did you know that the Warf offers free online fitness classes?
Remote teaching is booming right now. Like many other teachers, my wife now works with her students remotely using Google Meet hangouts. Many sites offer free online classes. And the voice behind “Olaf” (from Frozen), Josh Gad, reads bedtime stories via Twitter for kids. New free “edutainment” options are popping up daily on the web. And for the older students, the College Board is offering daily classes to help AP students keep up with their studies and prepare for shortened exams in May.
Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your antivirus protection up-to-date. As you rely more and more on your internet connections, be aware of increased scams and hacks. You need to be more vigilant than ever. Avoid clicking on anything within an email (like a link or download). I would distrust anyone trying to offer you something for free. They’re “phishing” for valuable personal and credit card information.
Protecting your data
I was recently asked, “Is your data safe online?” Well, unless we experience major security breaches or stolen passwords, you should remain the only one who can access your personal data. But personally, I am a bit afraid that the internet might break down for longer periods, or that hackers might take the opportunity to create additional havoc on the WWW. The key to data access and security is “backup, backup, backup.” Backup all your files to somewhere “offline,” such as a local external hard drive or USB stick. Backup your email by downloading your messages. Always make sure that you have credit card, bank statements, and mortgage statements downloaded. Talk to senior family members about a safe place for storing important technology information such as passwords to their devices and important accounts.
Internet speed and data use
We can all expect more issues with internet speed and access, because it is increasingly overloaded with data transfers, video conferencing, leisure gaming, remote schooling, video streaming, and so on. If the WWW becomes overloaded at times, internet speed will slow down to a crawl. Be ready for this. Repowering the router and modem from time to time might remove infections from your system, speed things up, and minimize connection and time lag issues.
Regarding downloads, please keep in mind that, except with Comcast, all providers have download limits. When they say unlimited downloads that generally means, you get fast downloading for so many gigabytes per day or month. But after that, the speed becomes very slow, too slow for decent remote access, not to mention streaming films, videos, or games. So, you might want to watch your provider’s download limits, and find alternative offline activities for your kids to keep it under control.
Working from home
Many people are now working from home, which can bring a whole other set of experiences. Here are some suggestions.
VOIP (Voice Over IP) systems perform phone calls via the internet. This allows you to use your home phone or cellphone as an office phone, and the calls will appear to come from your office location.
Remote computer access
While larger companies sometimes use VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect off site computers, there are smaller programs with easier setup available that allow you to access a remote computer. RescueAssist, Teamviewer, GotomyPC, and Logmein are simple programs that are downloaded from the internet onto the office computer, enabling it to be accessed, and worked on, from anywhere online. You will see the exact same screen at home as if you were sitting in front of the office PC, and you are working directly on your office computer. Any changes made to documents are saved on your office system.There is a fee, after a free trial, for most of these; there are free options out there but be aware that free is always risky. Paid programs are generally more sophisticated and secure.
Remember to keep an eye on your data use at home if you are on a paid plan. Limit children’s online activity while you are working so their streaming and games don’t slow your internet speed.
Like many other service businesses, my computer repair shop is committed to being there for our clients who depend on their computer systems. We sanitize units that come in and go out of our office, and we endeavor to minimize contact in order to protect our clients and employees. Also, many IT problems can be resolved by our technicians logging in to your computer remotely, avoiding the need to bring your system in.