Tag Archives: android

National Cyber Security Awareness Month – Mobile Security and Accounts

Mobile security of your smartphone or tablet, is not rocket science. You can take simple steps to secure your devices and online accounts that protects you from being an easy target. Let’s start with your passwords.

Passwords

You need to change them and do so on a regular basis. Please don’t be lazy about this simple task. Anyone who knows anything about you can probably guess your password. Especially if you d0 something stupid like use you dog’s name, the street you live on, your favorite shoe designer or sports team. People do these things and, to make it worse, they keep the same password for years. Or, dumber still, they use this same password on all their online accounts. So anyone who guesses it can then take over your life. How do hackers know you well enough to guess your passwords? Facebook! Never, ever, use the same password for multiple online accounts!

Change you passwords at least every six months. Use a lot of numbers and special characters and mix them up good. Your password should look something like this “L*gg46&#wEvF?.” Ugly huh?  And hard to remember too. Well try a password manager. They are easy to use and free. CheckThe Best Free Password Managers of 2017from PC Magazine.com.

Device safety

Do you know what your device is doing? It does all kind of things when you are using it, and when you’re not. Practicing good cyber security means understanding what your device is doing and how to spot trouble and stop it. Take the time to learn all about your mobile device.

Make sure you update your phone’s operating system and apps regularly. Companies are always finding flaws and security issues and they issue updates and patches when they do.

Online accounts

Consider this, any account you have online can be monitored to see what recent activity has occurred.  Ok, so who does not have a Facebook or social media account of some kind?To see what’s happening with your Facebook account click here.  Facebook offers all its users a page that will tell them if someone has been accessing their accounts. If you have a Twitter account click here, for Google click here.  These links will take you to the pages you need to monitor your account activity. Do yourself a favor and bookmark them for future use. It doesn’t take long to check these sites for unusual activity. And check them regularly.

You will also find ways to block any unauthorized activity on your accounts. Some apps and services allow you to set up alerts that come to you via a text message or email when something funny is happening to your accounts. They will also alert you when you log in from a new device or from a different location.

Check your apps

Another thing you need to do is check the app permissions on your phone or tablet. Apps communicate with their maker regularly. Most of the time its things like performance reports if the app crashes or updates. But trust me, it is communicating. You need to understand what your phone is doing and what permissions it has to access your data. Apps can do things like monitor your position using GPS, copy your text messages, access your contacts and spy on you using the on-board camera. Most people don’t realize how much data their phone and the associated apps give away.  Don’t just click on the “accept” link when an app asks for permission to access your phone’s features.  Investigate and ask yourself, why?

 Apps from third party vendors are a good source of trouble. Games, shopping apps, email apps, any app can be malicious. Hackers count on you not looking at the app too closely, especially the part about permissions to access things like your email, camera or GPS. Think it can’t happen to you? Think again!

You should also be aware of a new threat that is hitting mobile devices, it is known as ad and click fraud. It is a direct result of clicking on a link in an email or text message. Clicking on mysterious links is a s good way to introduce malware into your device.

Free Wi-Fi

Set up your phone to ask permission to join open wi-fi networks like you find at Starbucks. These open networks, or free wi-fi, are havens for hackers. When you are traveling make sure you know what the hotel or airport wi-fi name is. A new tactic for hackers is to set up their own wi-fi networks close to or inside the hotel. They give their wi-fi a name similar to that of the hotel’s. If you are not paying attention you might get on a hacker’s wi-fi. Hackers can see everything you do if you are on their phony network and that could be big trouble. Learn to you use a VPN or tether your device to your smartphone for secure Internet access. Better yet, get your own wi-fi hotspot. Many of the major cellphone service providers offer them.

Now you know.

 

National Cyber Security Awareness Month – Smartphones

African-Americans have embraced mobile technology.  According to Pew Research African-Americans are more likely to use mobile technology, smartphones and tablets, to access the Internet than whites. So we should be more aware of how to secure these devices.

I don’t have to tell you that your smartphone is the most valuable and sensitive piece of technology you own. To put it simply; it contains your life. Everyone you know is inside that device. All your passwords are probably saved there along with other sensitive data such as payment information, pictures, banking information and apps, social media apps, email, calendars and schedules and sensitive text messages. Because of all this data your phone is an attractive target to hackers.

Know Where Your Phone is at All Times.

Use the technology available to you to locate you phone or tablet if it should come up missing. Apple users make sure you use theFind My iPhone/Find My iPadfeature of the device. This feature can show you on a map exactly where you device is within a few feet. If you have an Android phone then Google offers  theFind My Deviceservice that can also pinpoint the location of your phone. There are also numerous app that can be used to track your device.

If you realize that your phone is gone for good then you can erase all the data on the device using the “Find My iPhone/Find My iPad” feature and lock the device from anyone using it. The same can be done for Android devices. Lets hope this is never the case but be prepared by knowing how to use these features and backing up your data so it can be easily downloaded to your new device.

The first most important thing you need to do is to keep control of your device at all times. No doubt you have experienced the feeling of losing it if only for a few minutes. Make sure you keep track of it at all times. “Nuff said there.

Be Paranoid!

Did you know that your phone can be hacked? As a matter of fact you probably already have been. First of all, anything that can connect to the Internet can be hacked…period! What makes your phone so vulnerable is that it has the capability to connect to anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. You need to fear this capability. Be paranoid!

Most phones are hacked by connecting to a wi-fi network. Do you know your phone settings? Is your phone set to connect to any open wi-fi network? If so then you are vulnerable to a hacker. Make sure your phone is set to “Ask” to join an open wi-fi. Think about that when you walk into a Starbucks or Panera Bread or anyplace that offers free wi-fi. Those places are hangouts for hackers. Be paranoid!

Should you have to connect to an open wi-fi avoid doing any sensitive business such as banking. This is what the hacker is waiting for. Any password or credit card information transmitted over an open wi-fi is fair game. Anyone close enough to pick up that open wi-fi signal can be a hacker. Be paranoid!

If your phone is out of date it is vulnerable. Keep your iOS and Android operating system up to date. This means your apps too. Apps and programs that have not updated are a vulnerable. Be paranoid about apps that request unusual permissions. These suspicious apps could ask for access to your camera or your email. Ask yourself why? Keep your phone updated. Do not download apps offered to you via email or text massage. Avoid third party app stores. Don’t respond to unknown text message or click on any links you are not absolutely sure of. This is a form of  social engineering where someone convinces you to do something you shouldn’t.  Be paranoid!

Don’t let strangers use your phone. There is an attack that occurs just by dialing a certain number. Here is the scenario; a stranger approaches you and claims his or her phone is broken or the battery is dead. They have a child or elderly parent waiting to hear from them and they ask to use your phone for a minute. Being the angel you are you allow them. They dial a number and then punch in a code and download malware or app that takes over your phone, monitors your activity and steal your data. Hey, it happens. Don’t be a victim. Be paranoid!

Now you know, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Back to School – There’s and App for That

Back to School

Its that time of year, back to school. And going back school means being prepared for the challenges of getting an education. Unfortunately many black students fail not because they are not intelligent or capable but because they are unprepared for the basic challenges of school. Our students do not come to school with the skills to take effective notes or plan their time properly. This alone is enough to kill a college career.

This is compounded by the failure of the public school system to properly prepare African-American students for the academic environment at the collegiate level. While the numbers are poor across all racial groups, black and Latino students are far behind their white counter parts. Nationwide only about a third of high school students are prepared for college level math and reading.

According to a report from National Assessment of Educational Progress  32 percent of white students and 47 percent of Asian students scored at proficient or above in math. Only 7 percent of Africans-American and 12 percent of Latinos students scored as proficient.

The gap was also seen in reading with 46 percent of white students and 49 percent of Asian students scored at or above proficient, while only 17 percent of black students and 25 percent of Latino students seen as proficient. 

The stats indicate that less than half of all students have the necessary skills to succeed in college. So, as you see, all students not just African-Americans, need help. So in the age of technology we turn to apps to make the transition to college a successful one.

Regardless of whether you’re a middle schooler or working on your doctorate you can find an app that will make things a little easier for you. You may need help taking notes or keeping a schedule. There is an app for that.

Google Keep

Taking notes is the first step to study and key to retention of classroom information. Google Keep is a note taking app that helps the student to keep track of information. It is also a key tool if you are part of a study group. Using Google Keep group members can take and modify notes together, in real-time.

Keeping good notes and being part of study group is great. But only of you know how to schedule your time and avoid those parties. Time management is another key to a good education and good grades, oh ,and avoiding those all night cram sessions.

Google Keep is free and available for Apple and Android.

Microsoft To-Do

Microsoft launched the new To-Do app to replace the Wunderlist app. Basically Microsoft bought Wunderlist in 2015 and has decided to upgrade it with new features and a new name. To-Do lets you create simple to-do lists, set reminders, and keep track of projects.

One of the new features of Microsoft To-Do is the “My Day” feature. My Day encourages users to focus on daily tasks by refreshing the list every day. How you may ask? The app connects with the student’s Office 365 and Microsoft Outlook . Microsoft has included an intelligent suggestions feature to recommend tasks for each new day based on upcoming items or old entries. For the sake of fun Microsoft also lets you assign an emoji to easily tell tasks and suggestions apart and will sync across whatever devices you’re using To-Do on.

To-Do is free and available for Apple , Android, and Windows 10.

My Study Life

Students have a tendency to fail to plan. Its called being young. Time management is not a strength of many college students. My Study Life is a reminder and planning tool that can be key to academic planning and success. The designers of this app claim that it was built from the ground up with academia in mind. My Study Life app supports weekly and daily rotation timetables as well as traditional weekly schedules. Students can receive notifications regarding incomplete assignments, upcoming classes and exams using the app. Its all about time management and task reminders that syncs across all devices and works even when the student is off line.

My Study Life is free available for Apple, Android  and Windows platforms.

Scrivner

If you can’t write effectively you won’t make it in college. Yeah, you could pay someone to write your papers for you but what happens when you  get a job? You need to learn to write and write good. That’s where Scrivner comes in for the college student. Scrivner is an extremely popular app used by many writers and scholars. This app requires a little patience to learn all its capabilities but once you get there it is a beauty to work with. It can organize you project and does just about everything else you need to research, write papers, master or doctoral thesis, a novel or what every you instructor requires. But don’t bother buying the app if you don’t have the program on your laptop or desktop computer.  You can buy the program for Apple or Windows laptops and desk computers here.

Scrivner app for mobile costs $20.00 an is available for both Apple and Windows platforms.

Google Slides

Every student will eventually be tasked with creating a PowerPoint slide presentation. And when you get that first job you can bet someone will ask for one.

Regardless of your major you will have to work in a group and you will have to combine multiple PowerPoint slides from other students. And of course not everyone will come through with their slides. Don’t bother arguing with them. Simply tell them to use that smartphone to download this app and get to work no matter where they are. Google Slides allows you to monitor their progress through your own Google Slides app. The app will update the presentation whenever a change is made.

Google Slides is free and  available on Android and Apple.

WolframAlpha

Students that are looking at studying math or engineering, astrophysics, or accounting or some other number focused field need a good calculator app. WolframAlpha is dedicated to help those students who are and are not hardcore physics geeks. The company likes the name “Computational Knowledge Engine.” If you check out the home page you will see that it claims to be able to handle everything from basic math to socio-economic data to meterological calculations to physics! WOW!

WolframAlpha is $2.99 and available for Windows 10 and Apple

Now you know.

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Kevin Hart, Lionel Richie

Comedian Kevin Hart in association with Lionsgate will launch a streaming comedy app entitledLaugh Out Loudon August 3rd. Content for the show appears to be plentiful with Hart’s comedy front and center. Among the shows planned are “Campus Law,” which places recent grads in security guard jobs at their alma mater.  Another sitcom planned for the service is “Dead House,” where a human joins a reality show alongside four zombies. Comedian Jo Koy will host a series that highlights viral pranks called “Inglorious Pranksters.”  Another show,”Black Geo,”  is a comedy series that satirically investigates the origins of black culture.

“Laugh Out Loud” will also offer all theDef Comedy Jam” seasons as well as standup sets from the comedy festivalJust for Laughs.” The service will also offer comedy from YouTube star GloZellVine stars King Bach and DC Young Fly, Emmanuel Hudson and MADtv performer Anjelah Johnson. Kevin Hart will have his own comedy series as Lyft driver using hidden cameras entitledKevin Hart-Lyft Legend.” In the show Hart plays old and hilarious Lyft driver Donald Mac. 

The ” Laugh Out Loud” app will be available on Apple and Android for free on August 3rd for $3 a month allowing users to stream shows ad-free. 

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie with “Heal” Founder Nick Desai

Singer, song writer and all around music legend Lionel Richie has decided to invest in new health care appHeal.” Richie is no stranger to tech investing as he was an early investor in the software colossus Microsoft. Richie has turned his sites and money on the new start up to bring the kind of quality medical care he remembers to others.

A native of Tuskegee, AL, Richie said, “If you’re born and raised in Alabama in a small, tight-knit community, you know all the doctors, you know all the nurses… No one said meet me at the office at 8 o clock in the morning and wait.”

That’s what drew Richie to “Heal.” He believes this technology and new business model could return a degree of service that seems to have disappeared from American healthcare.

“Heal” is a doctor-on-demand service that provides personalized doctor visits booked through an app on a user’s phone for $99 per visit.

Speaking about his first meeting with “Heal” founder Nick Desai Richie said, “When I met with Nick, he said ‘Here’s the pitch: we want to bring back affordable healthcare with doctors coming to the house in less than two hours.’ I said… are you kidding me… from there it was pretty much a question of how he could he pull this off? And when I realized they had actually pulled off the logistics of it, that was it… It was pretty much what I love.”

Richie, like many celebrity tech investors, has taken the time to get to know some of technology’s most influential movers and shakers as friends. Richie counts both Yuri Milner and Elon Musk as friends. It was Milner who got the music legend involved in the start up world. 

“Yuri is my entrée,” said Richie. “Yuri is the one who got me with the bug… I find that when I speak to him he has one one more fascinating thing to tell me after another.”

Richie likes the the fact he does not have to leave L.A. to find tech investment opportunities. “Silicon Valley and its innovation is moving here. That innovation is a new wave of creativity. And I can’t help but want to be a part of that future, said Richie.

“Heal” is free and available for the Apple and Android devices.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Serena Williams, Wendy Williams and JayZ

Serena Williams

Serena Williams and SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie (Image courtesy of Recode)

Tennis superstar Serena Williams has taken on the challenge of diversity in the technology industry. Williams has joined the board of directors of SurveyMonkey along with Intuit CEO Brad Smith.  Williams says she wants to help solve the diversity problem in Silicon Valley.

SurveyMonkey employs about 650 workers. Women represent 27 percent of its technology jobs. Just 14 percent of its total payroll consists of African-Americans according to numbers the company provided.

“I feel like diversity is something I speak to,” Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Change is always happening; change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me.”

Although Williams exact goals are not clear she feels that her presence on the board can help open up the valley to more diversity.

Williams is pregnant and engaged to technology entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian co-founder of the online forum Reddit. Williams expressed her disappointment in the lack of diversity in high paying technology jobs.

SurveyMonkey, like many technology companies, are looking for a way to change the diversity equation. Williams’ appointment is part of the solution, according to SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie. “My focus is to bring in change agents around the table who can open our eyes,” he said.

Williams’ became linked to to SurveyMonkey through her friendship with Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, another member of SurveyMonkey’s board.

“I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters,” Williams said. “Now, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool. When I do something, I go all out.”

Wendy Williams

Day time talk show host Wendy Williams is reaching out to her audience using a new app. Williams just launched ‘Wendy Digitala new entertainment and lifestyle app. Williams is deploying the technology to strengthen her already powerful connection with her audience. 

‘Wendy Digital’ will allow her audience to get to know her better by extending the show to their smartphones and mobile devices increasing interactivity. The app will offer staples of her television show that includes the very popular Hot Topics. Fans will able to participate in the often saucy discussions. The app will also offer shopping from her HSN Collection and outfit of the day or “OOTD.” The ETrivia function permits her audience to test their celebrity knowledge and win prizes. Wendy is using the app to share a little of herself by offering ‘Suddenly Wendy” that gives her fans exclusive video and behind scenes  views of “Wendy’s World.” 

‘Wendy Digital’ is free and available for Apple and Android devices.

JayZ and Tidal

JayZ continues to struggle with his Tidal Music Streaming service. The company announced the loss of yet another CEO. Tidal confirmed that it had jettisoned its third CEO in two years, Jeff Toig. In a statement to Billboard.com  the company wrote, “As part of Tidal’s continued expansion this year we will be announcing a new CEO in the coming weeks. We wish Toig all the best in his future endeavors.”

Toig took the reigns of CEO in January 2016 during its rocky launch. Toig replaced Peter Tonstad who replaced Andy Chen.

JayZ purchased Aspiro a Swedish ­technology company and its Winamp ­streaming service in 2015 for $56 million dollars. He renamed it Tidal and added powerful music stars like his wife Beyonce, friend Kanye West, Daft Punk, Nicki Minaj, Prince and many others. All seeking a away to get their fair share of music streaming revenue.

However, Tidal has struggled in the highly competitive music streaming business. Most importantly Tidal has struggled to attract and hold paid subscribers. Tidal has an estimated one million paid users falling far behind streaming leaders Spotify, 50 million subscribers and Apple Music, 20 million subscribers.

Adding to JayZ’s headaches is a report from a Norwegian newspaper saying Tidal has been inflating subscriber numbers to the media, the public and investors.

 

Want to get Politically Active? There’s an App for That

In the first days of Donald Trump’s presidency the flames of political passion were, and continue to be, intense. People of both political parties are calling for change and make no mistake, no one is completely happy. Black people especially are unhappy with the rehetoric and the people in Trump’s administration. We need to get politically active and make our voice heard. There’s an app for that.

But before we start talking about technology and political activisim we need to identify who our elected representative is, how to contact them and how to influence them.  African-Americans need to speak out, be heard and vote! Get Yo Black Ass Out and Vote!

To determine who is representing you locally, at the state level and in Washington visit CommonCause.org. You can enter you address and find out in seconds who is speaking for you. The information includes their names, phone numbers, web pages and email addresses. You can also check USA.gov. There are numerous websites dedicated to finding this information just search and you shall find.

The best way to get in contact with your elected representative is still a good old fashioned phone call. You can email them, write a letter or you can make an appointment to see them. Its their job to answer you.  The Constitution gives you the right to “Petition the government for redress of issues.” That means your represenative is obligated to answer your questions. Another effective way to make your voice herd is to write to the editor of the local newspaper. Learn more about how to influence your elected representative by visiting the Congressional Management Foundation website.

But if you own a smartphone you can easily contact, track and weigh in on what your representative is doing. The Countable app is a news and information app that allows the user to understand and vote on the bills being considered by their representative. Countable explains the issues in plain english and sends your “Yay” or “Nay” directly to your representative. Countable is free and available for Apple and Android devices.

 

 

Another app for tracking bills is called TrackBill. This app not only follows what is happening in Washington but also in your state capitol. Available for Apple and Android.

 

 

 

Brigade – This app is a combination social media platform and political information resource. You actually take a quiz on the issues that allows the app to profile your stance. It also helps you find you representatives. But keep in mind, like any social media forum, you are going to get a lot of partisan viewpoints. Hey, its politics. Brigade is available for Apple and Android.

 

 

One of the things all black people should focus on is local politics. Remember, these are the issues that affect you directly. Right there in your city, county or neighborhood. OpenStates website helps you accomplish this by using your smartphone position to tell you exactly who to contact about an issue. The site is easy to use and reader-friendly with outlines of local bills that are being considered and one that have been passed.

 

 

We are all looking for a non-partisan answer to the issues that impact us. Its a nice dream but not so easily attainable. But Ballotpedia tries to be that nonpartisan reference guide breaking down the results of elections and providing an overview of bills that are currently being debated. It also provides details about elected representatives for all levels of governmant. The website also can send you email updates. You can find a fact checker on the website as well called “Verbatim.In case you want to check those alternative facts.

Now you know.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Ludacris

Ludachris


Rapper Ludacris
is introducing a new mobile word game that recognizes slang.

The Grammy-winning rapper hooked up with Edwin Benton to drop  Slang N’ Friendz. The phone based game “gives players of all ages the chance to communicate using their favorite words by incorporating a dictionary database of slang words compiled from across the globe.”

Slang N’ Friendz recognizes words that are commonly thought of as slang. The free game is meant to encourage players to use both traditional as well as more hip words. The game is meant to remain up to date with both cultural and traditional language changes because there are nearly no rules and players can customize and even add new words to the game’s database.

Benton, the CEO and founder of Slang N’ Friendz said of the game, “Our goal is to provide users with a fun, compelling and un-intimidating word game where they can be themselves, learn and represent where they come from. Our purpose is to connect people across the world and allow users to engage with someone they wouldn’t normally meet. Slang is universal and could be the driving factor that brings us together and one day, possibly change the world.”

Getting the game is fairly simple just download the free app and get connected to players all over the globe. Players can choose to play against anybody with the app, a friend, or even on your own. Similar to Scrabble, Words with Friends, or other popular word games, you will be able to place your given letter tiles on a board to form a word. The difference with Slang N’ Friendz is what exactly is as a word?

“In a time when so much of the world is divided, technology has the opportunity to bring us together. Slang N’ Friendz encourages users to connect, be friendly and identify what they have in common through language,” Ludacris said. “It’s also a chance for different generations to learn about each other’s unique forms of communication and find ways to use language to bridge generation gaps.”

Ludacris, aka Christopher Bridges, is not new to the tech game. He first jumped in in September 2015 when he dropped the delivery app Roadie to get into the emerging peer-to-peer shipping market. Ludacris, like many black artists and athletes, understand that technology is the future and are aware of the huge benefits of investing in that sector. 

Being a savvy business man Ludacris has continued to invest in tech companies but won’t show his hand by telling his business. 

Slang N’ Friendz is available for  Apple and Android devices

Breaking It Down

This is a powerful idea that has great potential and I think Ludicris and Benton get it. We live in an age, especially in the United States, where cultural changes are often reflected in the language.  Learning and understanding this dynamic leads to less misunderstanding of not only words but intentions. Young people adapt to linguistic changes and quickly incorporate then into everyday conversation. Its called slang. But slang takes on a life of its own and becomes part of everyday speech. You feel me? Playing Slang N’ Friendz is buildng a bridge not just across generations, but cultures and even oceans. Some might feel I am pumping this game up but I’m just being real with you.

Online Holiday Shopping 2016 – Best Gift Card Sites

id-100113870

Photo courtesy of Nirots

There is a magical gift that, no matter what, is always exactly what the person wanted or needed. It is adaptable to any situation or occasion. This gift can be from the recipient’s favorite store or any store anywhere. And this gift can purchased for less than face value.  What is this super gift? The gift card of course!

One of the best gift cards to give is the reliable VISA ,MasterCard  or AmericanExpress Gift card. These three are perfect for gift giving because they can be used anywhere the credit cards are accepted and some are even re-loadable. How can you possibly go wrong when the gift card can buy anything from auto parts to nice dinners to clothing and jewelry. Using these cards as holiday gifts is a no brainer.

But should you have someone with particular tastes or if you know there is some place they get a special kick out of shopping then you can buy specific store gift cards. Almost every store provides gift cards and the top gift cards of 2016 can be found by clicking here.

And since this is the giving season lets look at the top gift cards sites. As I always say, “Black people don’t play when to comes to money!” So for African-Americans looking for the best deal on holiday gift cards there are a few sites you need to check out. These sites sell gift cards for below face value and these deals can save you some big money.

gift-card-granny-logoLets start with GiftCard Granny. The most amazing thing about GiftCard Granny is that you can actually download the Chrome extension and the apps for Apple and Android devices. GiftCard Granny offers over 150,000 gift cards from just about every store you can imagine and the discounts are nice. As much 20 percent off in some cases.  You can also sell your unused gift cards through the site. 

 

 

ebatesNext up is Ebates. This is another superstore of gift cards and they advertise discounts of up to 30 percent. And yes there  are thousands of stores and millions of cards to choose from. The deals are there but… You have to surrender your email address to even shop there. The site won’t even let you browse without surrendering some data. A definite turn off during the holiday season and good reason to move on to other gift card sites. 

 

raiseRaise.com is yet another excellent discount gift card website. This site lets the buyer shop using several parameters that include price, card type (physical or electronic),  and about twenty different categories of gift cards.  And if you are in Chicago you can check out the specials there as well. I am sure more cities will be offered soon. But trust me they have all of the major retailers  and hundreds of other specialty store and restaurants from Taco Bell to specialty steak houses. Right now it is also offering a new  sale section for additional discounts.

 

cardcashCardCash.com allows the user to buy and sell gift cards with awesome discounts.  And CardCash offers a 45 Day Buyer Protection Guarantee against those ever present holiday scam artists.  This site also allows you to search by physical or electronic cards and numerous different categories. You can find discount cards for hotel stays, restaurants, even frozen dinners. Here you can find gift cards discounted as much as 30 percent.

 

whizwalletWhizWallet.com offers discount cards from numerous different sites. According to their website they aren’t following the model that other sites use. Sites mentioned already buy and re-sell the gift cards. But WhizWallet compiles the inventory of the best discounted gift card sellers.  Using WhizWallet can help the customer find the right credit card, buy retail cards and discount cards. As always the selection is pretty expansive and you are bound to find the store you are looking for.

 

giftcardsGiftcards.com is another excellent gift card site that offers several different cards from various stores and providers. This site allows the user to even customize the gift card for special occasions. Y0u can get eGift cards delivered to your smartphone and again, every store is represented.

Holiday season is extremely busy and stressful for everyone. Trying to find the right gift for someone special can be a real headache.  But a gift card can definitely help. You literally have millions choices from stores to locations to type of gift. There are gift cards that allow you to give some special person a cruise or a vacation if you have that kind of money. May we suggest a Neiman Marcus Gift Card?

 But you may still need a little help. So WalletHub has released 2016’s Best Gift Card List  to help you choose. You can also check out their 10 Tips for Getting the Best Gift Card.

Finally, some people say that gift card are lazy gifts and seem impersonal. But research indicates 42 percent of Americans appreciate gift cards and cash over being mis-gifted. 

The Internet and the Black Voter

get-yoAs the presidential election campaigns wind down America is looking forward to a new face in the White House. African-Americans we can wish Brother President Barack Obama and his family a loving farewell with thanks.

But as black voters we need to understand three things. First, our support of the first black president was a powerful indicator of what changes can come about when we vote. The black vote secured President Obama’s first and second terms.  Second, the black vote can be powerful and not just in presidential elections. We can change things from our own neighborhoods to what happens in Washington D.C. If we vote. Finally, Black people have died for this right. Not acting on it is a sickening betrayal.

The Internet is an effective tool to extract the power of black voters.  To be a voter you must first register. Many states (not all) make it easy to register. Some states allow you to register at the local DMV also know as “motor voter” or post office. But if you have not registered to vote you can visit USA.gov to get the process started and get valuable information about voting in your state. You can also search the Internet for your polling place.

Young black people are in love with technology, especially social media. And social media is helping the democratic process by using their platforms to get young people registered to vote. SnapChat began encouraging young users to register via its app by running video ads. According to Mashable the ads are shown only to users who are 18 years of age and older. This is a powerful effort because Snapchat is used on a daily basis by 41 percent of all people aged 18 to 34 years old in the U.S.

Other social media sites that are urging voter registration can be found in this report from Mashable. Though not a social media site even Uber is encouraging participation in the democratic process.

Google and Facebook, the world’s most powerful social network, are also encouraging you to vote and helping you get registered. Simply search “how to register to vote” and Google will tell you how to do it in your state. Facebook offers a “Register Now” button that sends the user to Vote.gov.

Voter registration apps are all over the place. So black people have no excuse for not being registered. A simple web search can reveal a voter website, app or printable form for all fifty states. Its that simple.

Registering to vote could also get you a date or help find a significant other. There are apps that can hook you up with a like minded voter for romance.

But there is more to it than just registering to vote and then stepping up to the ballot box. Black people need to be informed voters; know what’s happening!

Finding information on your local, state and national issues is as simple searching the Internet. Want to know what your representative is doing or has done?  Want to check out his biography? Examine his life, his voting position on issues that affect black voters? How he has voted on issues that affect you? Who is contributing money to his campaign? You can find that information and a helluva lot more at Votesmart.org. This is one of the most powerful and impartial voter information tools available to the black voter. You can even call them with a question and someone will personally research your question and get you an answer.

Another powerful voter information tool is Countable.us. This is an informative website and application that allows the voter to read about the current bills moving through Congress and issues facing the federal government. The voter can get fair and impartial synopsis of current bills, where they are in the legislative process, what they will cost the taxpayer, who supports the bill and why and when the vote is expected to take place. In addition the user can direct email their representative their stance on the issue or bill. Download Countable.us for Apple and Android devices.

Finally do you know who your elected representative is? To find who is representing you on the local, state and nation level check out  the Common Cause  website to find that person.

Now you know.