Digital Skills will help find that summer job

Over the winter holidays, many high school students will be thinking about summer — especially finding a summer job .  Fortunately, there are a number of online resources available to students to help students safely and effectively find a job that’s right for them.  We’ve put together a short video to help them get started.

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How to develop a web analytics framework

Properly applied web analytics can show you whether or not you’re hitting your objectives and help you develop your web strategy for the future. But before you search for the best tool, Avinash Kaushik  advises you develop a framework that reflects your organization’s business objectives and your website’s goals.

Here is an infographic  I created that depicts the five key steps in developing the framework.

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Teaching an old dog new code

This week in #CEID100, we developed our coding skills via the Codeacademy.

Codecademy is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in 12 different programming languages including Python, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, SQL, and Sass, as well as markup languages HTML and CSS.

I completed courses in HTML over the past week, achieving badges as I advanced throughout the program.  In the end, I developed a fashion blog via hand-coded (raw) HTML. My goal is to learn JavaScript to create a simple chat bot by the end of this semester.

The mission of Codeacademy is to “build the education the world needs – the first truly net native education. We take more cues from Facebook and Zynga in creating an engaging educational experience than we do from the classroom.”

If you are interested in learning a basic or advanced programming language, I recommend exploring the Codeacademy catalogue.

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Stop and think before you click

This week 4,500 Ontario Cannabis Store customers had their private information and orders accessed by hackers after a breach at Canada Post.   And Information Security experts warn we’ve haven’t seen the last of large-scale data breaches, such as the one faced by Equifax last year (145 million Americans, 8,000 Canadians, 693,000 in U.K.). In fact, a Statistics Canada report said that six per cent of the 17,000 private Canadian enterprises it surveyed had experienced an Internet security breach.  In 2017, there were at least 33 publicly reported Canadian data breaches.

With that in mind, we’ve produced a short (30 second) video to help protect you from cyber threats.

Let me know what you think.  MJ

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Need help getting your emails read? There’s an app for that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week I used  Appy Pie to create a mobile app to help corporate communicators improve open and read rates with their email campaigns.  Here’s the link:

https://www.pwastore.com/w/effective-email-campaigns

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An elevator pitch in six words

I recently attended an Internal Communication Conference in Toronto.  One of the keynote speakers was Steve Crescenzo.  He noted corporate communicators have to compete with thousands of messages in the workplace (think cat memes or dog tease videos). Even with all this competition, many organizations are still producing materials that are not connecting with their employees (boring talking-head videos and endless long emails).

One of Crescenzo’s recommendations was producing “six word stories” to engage with employees.

I started to think about how I could tell my story in six words.  As a corporate communicator I think about why and how people engage with organizations (I conduct a lot of research). Through storytelling I motivate and inspire people to act (e.g. download this employee app! Adopt this new way of reporting information, etc.) thereby achieving the organization’s business results (increased productivity, improved customer service, and ultimately more sales, etc.).

So, this is what I came up with.  In six words, I…

Explain why. Inspire action.  Achieve Results.

Can you write a six word pitch?

MJ

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Shedding the light on data tracking

 

 

 

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (https://www.edelman.com/trust-barometer/), trust in organizations worldwide is at an all time low.  We trust organizations with our personal information and when that expectation isn’t met, they lose our trust and respect.

This betrayal of trust was felt by up to 87 million Facebook members, mostly in the U.S., when their personal information was obtained by Cambridge Analytica.

While Cambridge Analytica asserted it had “been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the news that their data had been “harvested” was shocking to most members (https://www.bbc.com/news/live/business-43924579).

The scandal opened the eyes of many internet users about web tracking for the first time.  Just what was being shared with third parties?

With my eyes wide-open, I used Firefox’s Lightbeam to shed light on how organizations were sharing my information.

Over the course of 20 minutes, I searched 13 sites who shared my browsing with 218 third parties.  While I wasn’t surprised my search history was being shared, I was surprised with the volume of those involved.

Why care?

Since browsing histories are used to create profiles, and to derive users’ identities, interests and much more, we need to know exactly who is collecting our information and why.

According to Ann Cavoukian, senior fellow at the Ted Rogers School of Management and distinguished expert-in-residence at the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson, “online citizens may be increasingly resigned to the loss of privacy as a fact of life, but research and public opinion polls show that they’re still not happy about it (https://www.ryerson.ca/news-events/news/2018/10/youre-entitled-to-privacy-even-online/).  In fact the Edelman Trust Barometer cites 83% of respondents want companies to do more when it comes to protecting their privacy.

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer

What needs to change for technology companies to rebuild trust? Prioritize privacy.

Companies need to be more open and transparent about what they share and become more user focused.  Assuming everyone knows that data tracking goes on is not only incorrect (most people do not know the extent – especially young people) and in many cases, it should not even be happening.

If companies do not become more aware of privacy rights, the government can step in with regulations.  For example, when ethicists and others criticized the lack of transparency of bots pretending to be real people, the state of California stepped in this week with a law to require companies to disclose when bots are being used.

Finally, we need to become more digitally literate and vocal about our privacy rights.

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A Prezi presentation

I am a corporate communication consultant and PowerPoint is the most used presentation tool used by my clients.  This week I had the opportunity to explore Prezi and experiment with many of its features.  Here is a video of the Prezi presentation that my colleagues and I produced.

https://youtu.be/0-lcbbCwkFw

Let me know what you think.

 

 

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10 Google search tips for the weary traveller

Planning for a dream vacation takes time and research.  Here are 10 tips to help save some time when planning your itinerary:

  1. The best way to search for an exact word or phrase on Google is to use quotation marks around the text.

Example: “best seafood restaurant in Sydney”

  1. Search for a word or phrase on a specific website by first typing your word or phrase, and then typing “site:” following by the domain name.

Example: hotels in Sydney site:trivago.ca

  1. Not sure the meaning of slang word? Search for a definition by typing “define:” and then typing the word.

Example: define: arvo

  1. To search for a specific hotel (or product) within a specific price range, just type your search term followed by your minimum price followed by two .. and your maximum price

Example: hotels per night in Sydney $200..$300

  1. You can even search for a specific filetype. Type your key word and then type “filetype:” followed by the type of file that you want.

Example: Sydney Opera House filetype:jpg

 

  1. You can include or ignore words in your search by using the + sign to include words.

Example: shrimp + barbeque recipes

Or the – sign to ignore words. Put a space before the ” – ” sign but no space after.

Example:  Sydney Australia walking tours –self guided

  1. Find sites/pages similar to an existing one by first typing “related:” and then enter the site that you want to find items related to them.

Example: related: https://www.sydney.com/things-to-do/fashion-and-shopping

  1. Confirm an exact quote, even if you are missing some words, by using an asterisk (*) in the place of the missing words.

Example:  You’ll come a waltzing * with me

  1. Search for pages containing two connected words by typing the first word, then type AND (using capital letters) followed by the second word.

Example: koala bears AND eucalyptus trees

  1. Search for social media content containing a specific tag by using the hashtag symbol (#) before typing your search words

Example: #sydneyoperahouse

 

These tips will help save time and help you get better results from your searches.

 

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Are your devices talking behind your back?

 

As John Palfrey and Urs Gasser noted in their book, Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems, our level of digital interconnectedness comes at an increasingly high price.  “We make big trade-offs as we become digitally connected everywhere and anytime,” they state[1]. One major trade-off is our vulnerability to cyber threats.

Security experts warn we haven’t seen the last of large-scale data breaches, such as the one faced by Equifax last year (145 million Americans, 8,000 Canadians, 693,000 in the U.K) [2]  In fact, a Statistics Canada report stated that six percent of the 17,000 private Canadian enterprises it surveyed had experienced an Internet security breach. In 2017, there were at least 33 publicly reported Canadian data breaches.[3]

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, there has been a significant increase in attacks on connected consumer devices— such as baby monitors, home thermostats, and televisions— that comprise the Internet of Things, a nascent ecosystem of devices that interconnect information, operational, and consumer technologies. These Internet-connected devices are vulnerable to attack because they lack fundamental security safeguards, a point verified by a 2015 HP Fortify on Demand study.[4]

On the surface, a hacked device may seem benign. But a device, like a smart refrigerator, may reveal WiFi credentials to a hacker giving them a base from which they can then attack other more critical devices on the network. So, it’s about more than just protecting the device itself.

Unfortunately, there is not much we can do on an individual level to improve the security of these devices.  If a company produces an insecure product we can either live with it or not buy it.  For those products with built-in security, here are five “best practices” to mitigate your risk from threats:

  1. Enable appropriate levels of security
  2. Change the device’s default passwords
  3. Ensure you use strong passwords (or pass phrases)
  4. Use different passwords and log-ins for your all your personal and work devices
  5. Use firewalls and anti-­virus/anti-malware on all your personal devices

 

 

[1] Page six

[2] https://www.csoonline.com/article/3223229/security/equifax-says-website-vulnerability-exposed-143-million-us-consumers.html

[3] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/cyber-attacks-have-hit-36-per-cent-of-canadian-businesses-study-says/article20096066/

[4] https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/consulting-services/information-security-survey/assets/the-global-state-of-information-security-survey-2015.pdf

 

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