Improve Your Productivity With These Chrome Extensions

When you sit in front of a computer all day is can be tempting to visit sites like The Chive regularly. If you find yourself doing this more then once or twice a day it may be harming your productivity. Fortunately, if you use Chrome, there are several extensions you can add that were developed to help you stay away from these disruptions. The Huffington Post wrote a story recently that highlights several of these, but below we focus on 4 that stood out to us.

Stay Focused

This add-on places a time limit on all those time-wasting websites that you like. Once the timer on each site runs out, it will remain blocked for the remainder of the day, preventing you from clicking on CNN or The Onion for an anti-productivity visit.

Cool Clock

Cool clock is an excellent add-on for Chrome if you find that you miss meetings or appointments. It comes with a clock, calendar, alarm, timer and hourly desktop time notifications. You can use this for more than just a device to remind you about meetings. It can also remind you of important tasks you need to complete.

Last Pass

How much time do you waste endeavoring to remember your password to Gmail or to your online banking website? Last Pass, one more nifty Chrome add-on, can change all this. This extension allows you to easily manage and monitor the numerous online passwords you have to cope with. You’ll be surprised at how much more time you will have once you remove those pesky attempts to remember which passwords have numbers and which ones have capital letters.

Turn off the Lights

If you need to watch videos regularly as part of your job but get sidetracked easily, this extension comes in handy. Turn off the Lights dims everything else on your screen but keeps your media player bright so that you have to concentrate on the video you are watching instead of the other things you have open.

Ransomware: What It Is And How To Protect Yourself

Have you ever read about ransomware? It is a particularly frightening new form of malware. A recent story published by Slate goes into the details of how it attacks your computer. After clicking on a suspicious link from an email or a webpage, your screen will instantly turn grey. Then a message pops up that is branded to look like it’s from the FBI. What’s more, it has you on a live webcam feed!

If that wasn’t unnerving enough, the next part is even scarier. You’ll then receive a message on your screen telling you that you have violated federal copyright laws. You are given two choices, pay a fine, or deal with three years in prison. You are then given a deadline with which to pay the fine, usually this is 48 to 72 hours. The message further threatens you by saying you’ll get locked out of your computer permanently if you don’t pay.

A real threat

As expected, the criminal charges bit of this scam is fake, but the threat of dealing with a completely locked computer is real, at least based on a senior security advisor quoted by Slate. That begs the question, should you simply pay the fine—usually in the $100 range—and hope that the hackers driving this scam unlock your computer? Probably not, according to the Slate story. After all, once these criminals have your money, what motivation do they have to actually unlock your computer? And how do you know that they won’t target your computer again in the future even after you pay up?

True protection

So how do you protect yourself? The same way you always have, with up-to-date antivirus software. Also, pay attention to what sites you visit and don’t click on links in emails from people you don’t know.

And if your computer is infected? This is a pretty advanced type of malware. To recover your computer, you might need to enlist the help of a computer security expert. Slate also recommends that you contact the real FBI by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

Your Lifestyle and Your Technology

Technology is moving fast today. Tablets, for instance, let us slip much of the power of desktop computers into our backpacks. Smartphones let us check the weather, find the highest-rated Thai restaurants in any neighborhood, and send and receive email messages. But as technology continues to evolve, a certain kind of stress grows at the same speed. You may feel as if you’re being left behind when you don’t buy the latest smartphone or the newest version of the iPad.

Diff’rent folks, diff’rent tech

But, not everyone needs the latest and greatest. Some individuals may, but others can get by with utilizing the same tech for years. Before getting your next piece of technology it can be helpful to analyze your lifestyle to find out what tech is necessary.

Tablets

Tablets can be fun little gadgets, and they are very handy. But are they required for every consumer? If you check your mail, work on excel sheets, or write mainly from home or work, you may not need a tablet. Maybe you want to avoid working on your commute to get some much needed alone time, then you may not want to get a tablet. If you are an individual who works mostly on the go, at coffee shops or from your car between meetings with clients, a tablet can make your life a lot easier.

The Smartphone revolution

Smartphones have evolved into miniature computers, allowing users to log onto the Internet, send text messages, watch videos, play music, and send and receive email messages. But how technologically advanced of a phone do you really need? Again, it comes down to how much computing you do on the road. Do you prefer to answer email messages from the comfort of your own home and desk? Do you like to watch movies on the big screen in your living room? Then a basic cell phone might be fine. However, if you do much of your communicating – through text, voice and email – while traveling across the city, an investment in an advanced smartphone seems sensible.

The point is that the next time the new iPad or Android device comes out, think about your lifestyle. Will you actually take advantage of the new advancements that come installed in this new great gadget? If not, it may not be worth your money.