How to Stay Anonymous Online

Online privacy is slowly becoming obsolete. With recent revelations of the NSA spying on citizens and the common occurrence of cookie tracking, more personal information is being gathered than most of us would like. Simply put, web browsing has become an activity that is incredibly intrusive in regards to privacy.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of ways to protect your online identity and prevent your browsing habits from being tracked and sold to the highest bidder. While some methods are better than others, any step that you take towards keeping yourself anonymous on the web can have a huge impact on what corporations and government agencies can learn about you and your interests.

HOW AM I BEING TRACKED?

There are a ton of methods of tracking that are practiced today. The fact of the matter is, corporations want to know everything about you: your opinions, your recently visited places, your favorite products, your interests… In fact, all of these personal details are tracked by default. 

Have you ever questioned how Amazon knows exactly what you are looking for when you visit their home page, or how advertisements on websites relate to recent interests? These occurrences aren’t coincidences. This is the result of companies tracking people who surf the web in order to increase sales. Here’s a few ways they pull it off:

Cookies

Cookies are great. They store passwords so that you don’t have to keep typing them in, they save unfilled web forms so that you can come back to them later, and they can even save options that you specify on a website. They make surfing the web a faster, more streamlined experience. However, companies take advantage of these neat little bits of data in order to track what websites you visit. 

Here’s how it works: when an advertisement is displayed on a web page, a cookie with a unique number is saved to your computer. Then, when an advertisement is displayed on another website, it reads the cookie that was saved and reports data back to the ad network. Over time, they accumulate data and begin to identify who you are based on what websites you visit. This in turn allows the ad network to display advertisements that are tailored to people with specific interests.

This process is the same way Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other Information Technology companies track internet users. While there tends to be a lot of disapproval in regards to this process, it is completely anonymous and cannot spy on any personal information that may be present on a website. The only data being sent back to the ad networks are the unique number of the cookie and the website that you are visiting.

How to get rid of cookies: There are a number of ways to remove cookies or block them completely. The steps required to do so depend on the web browser that you are using.

  • Internet Explorer
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • iPhone/iPad (Safari)

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a program that tracks visitor data. It is extremely beneficial for owners of websites to be able to see where visitors are coming from and what they are doing on the site. This helps the owner to improve content and create things that cater to the major demographic of visitors the site receives.

Here’s the rundown: The owner of a webpage wants to see how many people are visiting his site. He takes a special code that Google Analytics generates and places it on his website. When visitors come to his site, the code sends messages back to Google, and tracking begins. Data recorded include where the person came from, what they do on the site, and how they leave. It also can pinpoint the person to a specific demographic: their age, gender, and location.

How to Opt Out of Google Analytics: Google recognizes that not all users want to be tracked. To respect the privacy of users who request it, they have released a browser addon that disables Google Analytics functionality. You can download the addon here.

HOW TO STAY ANONYMOUS ONLINE

While blocking cookies and opting out of Google Analytics already removes a huge footprint that normal browsing would leave, there are still a handful of ways that you are being tracked and identified. Everyone deserves privacy, so we’ve researched the best ways to avoid being tracked and compiled a list of the best solutions.

VPN Network

A VPN is a service which anonymizes you from any and all tracking. It works by encrypting your internet traffic and running it through a relay server located somewhere in the world. These servers can be as close as a few cities away, or they can be located on the other side of the planet. Either way, your traffic is encrypted and any attempts of tracking result in the details of the server’s location being sent instead of yours.

There are a plethora of companies that provide VPN Networks, and hey are located around the globe. While choosing a close-by provider, you will experience a faster connection, but by choosing a server located in another country, you will be guaranteed full anonymity. Additionally, some companies keep logs of VPN usage. When selecting a VPN for yourself, be sure to check that the service does not keep any logs.

Here are a few reputable VPN Networks:

  • Hidepad VPN for iPod, iPhone, and iPad – Hidepad is a foolproof VPN service for Apple mobile devices. It is easy to set up and incredibly fast.
  • VPNAce – VPNAce sells VPN Networks located outside the United States. It offers blazing fast speeds and top-notch anonymity. They offer a free trial to test the waters and see if a VPN is for you.
  • HideMyAss – HideMyAss has been around for a few years, and it’s millions of users don’t lie. Their service is great. The only caveat is that the servers are shared with other users, causing the VPN to sometimes go down or block you from specific sites.

Tor

Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is a VPN project that completely anonymizes your web surfing. It works by scrambling data through multiple servers before it makes its way to your computer, making it very hard if not impossible to track. For various technical and legal reasons (do a Google search for “Dark Web”), we don’t recommend it as your choice for staying anonymous online. However, if you have technical prowess and are in search of a free solution, you can get Tor Browser here.

Top Video Game Design Schools

Many students pursue careers in video game design and development every year. With a booming multi-billion dollar industry, game design is quickly becoming a high-demand field that promises high salaries and great benefits. However, in order to become a fully-fledged video game developer, students need to have the proper education and experience. Luckily, there are schools that specialize specifically in video game programming and design, and having a degree from one of these schools can give students the boost they need in order to get a job at a reputable game studio.

NOTABLE VIDEO GAME DESIGN SCHOOLS

#5: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, New York)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute offers over twenty five game design courses that span across five departments. These departments include: Games and Simulation Arts, Electronic Arts, and Electronic Media and Communication. In-depth studies explore the various avenues of game design and strive to give students the experience they need to complete projects as a team.

#4: Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York)

Princeton Review has noted that the Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the top schools for game design. Having ranked in the top ten game design programs for the past three years, RIT offers plenty of courses aimed at game design techniques, game design theory, and their MAGIC program that targets skills in the fields of Media, Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity.

#3: Savannah College of Art and Game Design (Savannah, Georgia)

While one of the new kids on the block, the Savannah College of Art and Game Design is one of the leading schools for game design and development. SCAD offers over 40 majors and 60 minors, including Interactive Design and Game Development, Animation, Game Programming, and more.

#2: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Carnegie Mellon is one of the leading schools in computer sciences, a field widely studied in the world of game programming. Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon offers programs titled “Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts” and “Masters of Entertainment Technology.” These courses provide students with game development skills that lead to high-level job offers straight out of graduation.

#1: University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)

Princeton Review has noted that the University of Southern California is the number one game design school in the United States. Offering competitive courses in game design, game theory, game programming, and interactive media, students looking for a top-notch education in video game development should look no further. Students have gone on to work for companies such as Microsoft, Valve, Electronic Arts, and plenty of other triple-A game studios that release high profile games.

Top Fields of Study for Video Game Design

It is no secret that in order to become a video game designer, students must have a variety of skills at their disposal. Here is a list of some majors that game studios look for when hiring staff members.
  • Computer Science – Video games are made from hundreds of thousands of lines of code. Because of this, skills in programming with various languages are high in demand. If programming is your thing, a degree in Computer Sciences  is something you should definitely consider.
  • 3D Modeling and Animation – Visuals are a large component of video game design. If you prefer to turn ideas into reality and love art, this is a field you should consider when looking for a job in game design.
  • Sound Engineering – Sound is another large component of game design. Sound engineering is very important for creating immersive games, and it is high in demand.
  • Network Engineering – With online gaming becoming more and more common, it is imperative that a game’s netcode be stable and efficient. Network engineering is a lucrative field that is high in demand when regarding game design.

MORE INFORMATION ON TOP VIDEO GAME DESIGN SCHOOLS

  • Princeton Review – http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/game-design
  • Top 50 Schools in the US for Game Design – http://www.animationcareerreview.com/articles/2013-top-50-schools-us-game-design-and-development

DX Racer Formula Series Gaming Chair Review

The absolute worst thing about using the computer for long periods of time is the fact that you are often sitting in an uncomfortable, cheaply made computer chair. And the numbers don’t lie. Over 75% of computer users admit that they overlook buying a proper chair when budgeting their office or computer room. But think about it, doesn’t it make sense that, if you are planning on spending long periods of time working or gaming on the computer, you should at least invest in a comfortable chair that won’t lead to back problems down the road?

Finding a computer chair that is both a good value and provides superior comfort is sadly not an easy task. There are a ton of options out there, and let’s face it, picking out a computer chair isn’t the most exciting thing to do. Most of the time, people want to make a decision without spending a long time trying out chairs. If you are looking for a new computer chair, then why not try out the DX Racer computer chair?

The DX Racer is an ergonomic gaming chair that is super comfortable to sit in for extended periods of time. Commonly used in eSports tournaments and popular among online videogame streamers, the DX Racer is designed for extreme comfort during prolonged gaming sessions. But that doesn’t mean that it’s exclusive to gamers. Anyone who spends a long time on the PC every day is a part of DX Racer’s demographic. While it might be quirky to bring one into the office, many serious business people who work from home have furnished their offices with this chair, noting its ergonomic design and affordable luxury.

The DX Racer is made from high-density cold cure foam that molds to your body shape, making it comfortable for sessions of eight hours or longer. With its durable build and super comfortable eight-position armrests, the Formula Series of DX Racer computer chairs remain incredibly stable. And with the ability to recline the back of the chair all the way back to 180°, this chair fits just about any occasion.

These puppies can recline up to 180°

The DX Racer Formula Series chairs all go through strict quality assurance testing. Requiring a passing grade on over 72 quality tests, you can rest assured that your chair meets the highest standard of comfort and luxury. And the reviews don’t lie. On Amazon, 485 user reviews have averaged about 4.4 out of five stars, with reviews specifically stating the high level of comfort that these chairs provide. Each goes on to praise a superior build quality and amazing ergonomic design.

The DX Racer Formula Series Computer Chairs are designed to resemble bucket style racing seats. They are sure to catch an eye, as well as receive multiple oohs and aahs for many patrons willing to try out its reclining functionality. While the chair itself weighs about 57 pounds, it supports up to 265 pounds, and it remains stable the entire time. Best of all, the chairs come with sets of cushions near the neck area and back arch area to meet maximum comfort requirements.

If this doesn’t look comfortable to you, we don’t know what will.

There is one problem though. These chairs are so comfortable that you will not want to get out of them. We aren’t joking. These chairs were built for at least eight hours of sitting per session, and they’re so comfortable that you will likely want to fall asleep in them. And you can. Since they recline 180°, many users report taking naps in them against their will. In fact, we have a few in our office, and since they’ve arrived, our staff of been working longer hours due to the fact that they don’t want to get up.

Will they certainly aren’t ideal for every situation, DX Racer Formula Series gaming computer chairs are great value for the amount of comfort and luxury you will receive. If you spend long hours on the computer, working or gaming, then this chair is a fantastic option for you.

WHERE TO BUY THE DX RACER GAMING/COMPUTER CHAIR

5 Disadvantages of Cloud Computing – Common Problems with the Cloud

Cloud computing has been around since the early 2000s, and it is here to stay. With the ability to outsource processing power to cloud computing providers, it is now easier than ever for businesses to automate tasks and crunch numbers through the internet. Like it or not, cloud computing is here to stay, and the industry is projected to continuously grow as more technological advancements are made.

The benefits of Cloud Computing are a plenty, but despite all of the amazing feats that modern cloud-based services tend to achieve, there are still many drawbacks that prevent businesses from looking to fully transition to a cloud-based workflow. In this article, we will break down the disadvantages of cloud computing and discuss the caveats that come with outsourced processing power.

Don’t get us wrong: we love cloud computing! It has paved the way for great services such as Netflix, Spotify, and even Healthcare.gov. In fact, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been regarded as the “most important piece of technology of this generation” by various news sources. Keep in mind when reading this article that we fully support cloud computing. We just want to make known the various problems that can stem from lack of proper execution.

THE DISADVANTAGES OF CLOUD COMPUTING

#1: The Cost

While cloud services are becoming more and more affordable by the day, the cost of a server that is able to meet the demands of the average business adds up fast. Many cloud service providers only charge a few cents per hour of uptime, but the fees don’t stop there. Most companies will charge for bandwidth usage, instance fees (based on how many programs are running on the server), storage space, and processing utilization. This means that more intensive tasks that are performed on the server will drive up the hourly cost, resulting in hefty bills to pay off each month
Additionally, provided servers often come with multiple hardware options that determine the processing power of the server. These upgrades add an additional monthly flat-rate rental fee to the final cost, further driving up the bill. While these high-spec upgrades are completely optional, the cheapest servers usually don’t perform at a fraction of what some of the pricier options perform at.
Bottom Line: Cloud computing isn’t always cost effective. Hidden costs can drive up the hourly price of the rented server. Servers that perform well are expensive.

#2: Technical Issues

On the internet, anything can go wrong. This is also true for cloud computing. Since rented servers are in a remote location and are often locked down to the point where troubleshooting becomes a real chore, dealing with technical issues in the cloud is extremely tough; especially for lower-cost servers.

Let’s say, for instance, that external computers are having a hard time connecting to a cloud-based server because of improper configuration. Sometimes, a problem like this will require support from the service provider themselves, resulting in lost revenue and time wasted in a tech support queue.

Local computing, even if server based, results in much less of a hassle when regarding technical issues. Hardware malfunctions can be fixed on the spot, technicians have full access to every tweak-able parameter in the system, and businesses can choose any route they like to resolve any issues that may arise.

#3: Security Issues

When dealing with sensitive data, it is imperative that encryption and security protocols be closely observed. However, when dealing with the cloud, which is accessible by any computer at any time, security can become an issue.

Suppose a health clinic is using cloud computing to store and access medical records on a remote server. If a hacker were to find a loophole in the system and gain access to these sensitive medical documents, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) would be deployed in a series of severe lawsuits which could single-handedly shut down an entire company.

Using high-level encryption can certainly thwart most hacking attempts, but as hackers begin to discover and deploy more and more complex methods of data interception, a single mishap can cost a company everything.

#4: Prone to downtime

As is the problem with any internet service, one of the biggest disadvantages of cloud computingis downtime. When running a business that requires crunching large numbers in a timely manner, downtime is unacceptable. For each second a server is down, a business could potentially lose thousands of dollars in potential revenue.

Cloud computing has improved over the years, and many services offer a 99.9% server uptime guarantee. However, in the rare instance of server downtime, productivity can come to a screeching halt, and potential revenue starts to disappear.

#5: Prone to Attack

Out of all of the disadvantages of cloud computing, cyber attacks are the highest threat. If a competitor or hacker decides to attack the data center hosting a company’s cloud server, every server in that data center has a possibility of going offline.
DDoS (Direct Denial of Service) attacks are very easy to launch. Just take a look at the attack that was launched over Christmas against Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s Playstation Network. For nearly a week straight, hackers were able to keep these two high-profile cloud services offline, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue lost and a public relations nightmare.
If hackers can press a button and minutes later boot prolific cloud computation services offline, what is preventing them from attacking any other service on the web?

DO THE DISADVANTAGES OF CLOUD COMPUTING OUTWEIGH THE BENEFITS?

Absolutely not. No matter what method of service a company wishes to use, there will always be technical problems to worry about; it’s the nature of computing. Cloud computing is becoming safer each day, and this method of service will undoubtedly be used by a majority of companies in the future. What is important is that companies stay safe and follow strict security guidelines when dealing with cloud computing. The world wide web is filled with threats, but as long as security and technological support is in place, cloud computing will serve an imperative role in data processing in the years to come.

Where is Battlefield Bad Company 3?

The Bad Company series of the Battlefield franchise hit the ground running with its debut on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles back in 2008. With its groundbreaking destructible environments, lovable characters, and impressive arsenal of weapons, Battlefield Bad Companyhad a very positive reception from critics and gamers alike.

In 2010, DICE (Digital Illusions CE)  released Battlefield Bad Company 2, and once again, it was a force to be reckoned with. Whether it was the over-the-top sound effects, impressive Vietnam DLC, or grand selection of maps, Bad Company 2 had something that everyone loved.

And then, just as the fan base was reaching numbers that closely rivaled those of Call of Duty, the series vanished. In its place came Battlefield 3, and then Battlefield 4. While these games were good in their own respective right, they failed to provide the same fun-filled vibe that the Bad Company series managed to attain.

So where is Battlefield Bad Company 3? Well, DICE hasn’t really said much about the series, but they haven’t left gamers completely in the dark.

“We take all this into account when we think about the future, and do franchise strategy, But there’s one thing that lingers with Bad Company that we’ve been asking ourselves: ‘What is it that the people really liked about Bad Company?'” -DICE board member Karl Troedsson 

Troedsson poses a complicated question; one that has been met with so many responses that it has become hard to pinpoint exactly what gave Bad Company the fun factor it had. Some have stated that their loyalty was due to the simplicity of online play. Others have noted the responsive controls and entertaining driving physics. With all of these user-submitted criteria to consider, it becomes hard to build a game that stays true to the series while catering to its fans.

It’s scary to go back and try to remake an old fan favorite when actually no one can really put their finger on what it is people love… It’s starting to almost get to that place where, if we were to make a sequel to Bad Company, what would than even imply?

Despite the complexity of the project, DICE has stated that they haven’t ruled out future Battlefield Bad Company titles. As IGN.com reports:

“The Bad Company IP is still something we love,” DICE’s Patrick Bach told IGN. “It’s very dear to me because I worked on both titles… [We would] never kill something that’s great.”

While there is still no word of the series’s return, fans wait patiently for news of the third installment of the Bad Company franchise. Will it see the light of day? Nobody can say for sure, but DICE has been known to stay true to their word, and if they truly mean what they have said, Battlefield Bad Company 3 is on the horizon.

A Question to Readers: What is it that you liked about the Battlefield Bad Company series?

A Technical Review of Grand Theft Auto 5 PC

In 2008, Rockstar games released their critically aclaimed title Grand Theft Auto IV. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version of the game was highly praised by critics, and it won several game of the year awards. Six months later, a Games for Windows port was released, and noting the 98/100 Metacritic score, gamers fell into the trap. The PC port of Grand Theft Auto IV was an unoptimized, practically unplayable mess that struggled to run with top-of-the-line hardware.

Fast forward three and a half years to when Rockstar released the PC port of Max Payne 3. While gamers were on-the-fence about allowing their hard earned money to go to the same company that ported Grand Theft Auto IV, it turned out that Rockstar Games had indeed made sure the game ran smoothly. Supporting a large variety of hardware configurations, Max Payne 3 ran on most systems without a hitch.

Yesterday, Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto V for the PC. Does it learn from the mistakes of its predecessor, or does it succumb to faulty optimization and insurmountable glitches? Let’s find out.

Rockstar unlocked Grand Theft Auto V at 7PM on April 13th where I live, so as soon as I got home, the first thing I did was begin decrypting the pre-load that had been sitting on my hard drive for the past week. Unbeknownst to me, Steam’s decryption process needs twice the amount of data that the game occupies in order to successfully unlock, and to my surprise, my 120GB Solid State Drive was not enough to house a whopping 130GB of encrypted and decrypted game data. I don’t blame Rockstar or Valve for this, however. This was user error over anything else.

I re-downloaded the game on a larger hard drive and used SteamMover to move the game to my Solid State. Now everything was ready. And I clicked the play button on Steam…

…and I was blown away. Right from the get-go, I was presented with crisp, beautiful graphics, a steady 60FPS, and the same game that we all know and love from Fall of 2013. Whilst playing the prologue for what seems like the hundredth time, I noticed many enhancements to minor details, such as the frost that caked the getaway car, the quality of the characters’ skin textures, and most importantly, the lighting.I am now up to the “Casing the Jewelry Store” mission, and single player has yet to give me any significant problems. While some physics problems still persist, these glitches are often comical, and are extremely easy to overlook when immersed in the city of Los Santos.

There are, however, a few game breaking glitches and crashes that gamers have been reporting. While I have yet to experience any of these issues, Rockstar has released a statement concerning these issues. Most notable on their list is an issue where Windows User Accounts with special characters in them could not connect to Rockstar’s servers. Apparently, Valve was so sure that the launch of Grand Theft Auto 5 PC would go off smoothly that they began accepting refunds.

I had played Grand Theft Auto 5 upon its initial release, so I set aside the Story Mode and hopped on Grand Theft Auto Online. After a few matches, I came to the conclusion that Rockstar’s servers were having issues keeping up with the amount of stress that they were being put under, as the players in the match were all reporting heavy lag spikes. During gameplay, I did not notice these lag spikes on my own character, but the players on my team told me that it was affecting me too.

Also, I have experienced a few connection drops when attempting to join games. Although this has only happened three or four times, it is pretty annoying, and I hope that Rockstar can maintain the level of traffic that is hammering their servers.

BENCHMARK TEST

The game was running smooth as a hot knife through butter on my system, so I decided to run a benchmark test. Since Rockstar has been boasting about GTA 5 PC being scalable on a wide variety of hardware, I knew that it would perform well on my rig.

What I didn’t know is that the recommended VRAM for maximum settings was 3.5GB, and even though I had two GTX 770s in SLI, I still only had a reported 2GB available. Despite this, I ignored the VRAM warnings and cranked most of the settings up to max. Surprisingly, the game scaled well even under insufficient VRAM. The opening sequence stuttered a few times as new areas loaded, but ultimately, the FPS stayed at a solid 60FPS, which is exceptional.

In fact, this game scales so well that an acquaintance of mine told me that he was able to run the game at nearly 30FPS on a laptop with integrated graphics. That’s impressive!

To enhance gameplay and remove any and all stutters, I toned down some of the extreme settings like MSAA and Shadow Quality. This did the trick, and without sacrificing virtually any graphics quality. The game still looks incredible on lower-than-max settings.

My Rig

Processor (CPU): AMD FX-8350 @ 4.5GHz
Graphics Card (GPU): 2x nVidia GTX 770 2GB SLI
Hard Drive (HDD): 120GB Samsung EVO 840
RAM: 24GB DDR3 1800

CONCLUSION

Despite the minor hitches upon launch, it is apparent that Rockstar Games has taken the time to not only remaster the original release of Grand Theft Auto V, but also add support to a wide range of hardware and fix a lot of bugs that are still present in the last-gen and next-gen versions of the game.

While Rockstar Games’s online servers are being hammered, they still perform fairly well and do not hinder the gameplay enough to hurt the game’s overall score.

If you are a PC gamer who has long awaited the release of Grand Theft Auto 5 for PC, fear not. It is nothing like the PC port of Grand Theft Auto IV. Do yourself a favor and pick up this quality title, as it can only get better going forward.

A WordPress Tutorial for Beginners – Installation and Tips

While it can be daunting, creating a blog with WordPress is actually pretty painless. While it may take a few minutes to set up, once you begin using WordPress you will find yourself comfortable with the user interface and ready to become the next big blogger! In this WordPress tutorial for beginners, we will cover all of the basics of the WordPress CMS, how to set it up on your hosted server, and how to navigate through the user interface. Read this article closely, and we promise you’ll be learning WordPress in no time!

PART 1: WORDPRESS INSTALLATION

The installation of WordPress is probably the hardest part with creating your new blog. This step is also the one that will vary the most depending on what hosting you are using. There are multiple paths you can take with installing WordPress:

WordPress Installation Option 1: Create a free WordPress blog onWordPress.com

WordPress.com offers free hosting and an automatic setup of your very own blog, all in the click of a button. If you aren’t too tech savvy, then this might be the best option for you. You will be given a free WordPress.com sub domain, free hosting, and an automated blog setup. All the heavy lifting is done for you!

While this is the easiest option, it is not always the best. WordPress.com strips some of the functionality of your WordPress setup, disabling plugins, custom templates, and limits what you can do with your blog. It is because of this functionality that we recommend you set up your own WordPress blog on your own server, as this will come in handy down the road. However, if you are just testing the waters of the blogging world, then this step will be fine for you. Just be aware of the limitations that you will face as you gain experience with the platform.

WordPress Installation Option 2: One-Click WordPress Install (Only available with select hosts)

If your hosting offers a One-Click Install Script, then once again, all of the work will be done for you. In my experience, the following hosts have offered me One-Click Installs of just about any CMS that is still in active development:

  • HostGator.com – Very Affordable, but limited to one site on the cheapest plan.
  • BlueHost.com – I haven’t used them before, but I have heard nothing but positive reviews.
  • DreamHost.com – Offers a two-week free trial.

Of course, there are many other hosting options, and in this day and age, it is becoming more and more rare to find a host that doesn’t offer this one-click functionality. If your hosting provider includes this option on your cPanel, follow these steps to complete your WordPress installation:

  1. Log into your cPanel and scroll down to the Software/Services section. Look for an option that has something to do with “Installing” CMS platforms to your blog. On HostGator, this feature is called QuickInstall. On other hosting, it may be called “Softaculous” or something else. If your cPanel does not have any option relating to installing a CMS, then you cannot use the One-Click Installer. Scroll down to WordPress Installation Option #3 to learn how you can manually install WordPress.
  2. In the One-Click Installer, find WordPress from the menu of CMS platforms. You may be required to fill out a few text boxes pertaining to the name of your site, the admin username and password, and so on. Then, one all of the information is filled out, click install and the rest of the grunt work will be done for you!
  3. Navigate to your domain and log into your WordPress setup using the specified admin username and password from the last step. If you cannot find the log in for your website, then use this URL to reach the back-end log in screen: http://YourWebsite.com/wp-admin/

Now you’re ready to start posting and customizing your WordPress blog! Congrats!

WordPress Installation Option 3: Manually Installing WordPress

If your hosting provider does not offer a One-Click Install Script on your cPanel, then you will have to install WordPress manually. This step can be a little bit daunting, but we promise to hold your hand through the entire process. Let’s begin.

  1. Grab a copy of the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org. Clicking the big blue download button on the homepage will download a .zip file containing the necessary files to make WordPress run.
  2. Extract the “WordPress” folder to your desktop or another folder. The “WordPress” folder should be located right inside the .zip file you just downloaded in the last step.
  3. Upload the contents of the “WordPress” folder to the root of your hosting file server. This can be done in a number of ways:
  • FTP Upload – As a soon-to-be webmaster, you should probably familiarize yourself with FTP File Transfer. We won’t go super in-depth in this article about how to set up FTP, but stay tuned for a future article! We recommend that you use FileZilla while uploading the WordPress CMS. It is fast, fully featured, and best of all, completely free! When your FTP is set up, upload the files and folders inside of the previously extracted “WordPress” folder to the root of your hosting. You’ll want to make sure that these files are being uploaded to the “public_html/www” folder, so keep your eyes peeled. If no folder options with that name exist, you are good to go.
  • cPanel File Manager – Every cPanel has its own File Manager. Go ahead and click on it, and make sure that “Web Root (public_html/www)” is selected when the File Manager Directory Selection is prompted. Once you’re in, you can start uploading the files and folders inside of the “WordPress” folder that was extracted in the last step.

Completing the WordPress Installation

Once all of the WordPress core files have been uploaded, navigate to your domain to complete the setup. The setup may ask for settings such as your SQL database. If it does and you have not yet created a database, follow these steps:

  1. In your cPanel, scroll down to the “Databases” section and click “MySQL Databases”. This will bring you to a new page where you can create a database.
  2. Under the “Create New Database” section, type a surname for your database and click the Create Database button.
  3. Take note of this database name! You will need it later.

With your database created, you should now have all of the information you need to finish the on-page instructions on the homepage of your blog. Just fill in the required text fields and you will be good to go!

PART 2: WORDPRESS BASICS

WordPress is incredibly easy to use, but all of the on-screen options can be confusing. Here are a few terms you should know in order to be able to effectively manage your site.

WordPress Tags and Categories

WordPress has two main systems of classification that you can use to organize your blog:

  • Tags – Think of tags as keywords that classify each post. For example, say I wrote a post about “Xbox 360 Games”. In my tags, I could name each game that I listed in my post, and when a visitor clicked that tag, it would direct them to a page that listed all other posts with the same tag. This is useful for both classification and Search Engine Optimization purposes, so be sure to use tags!
  • Categories – Categories are a more formal way of classifying your posts. Take my previous video game example. If I reviewed each game, I could classify that post in the “Reviews” category, and since these games were for the Xbox 360, I could also file my post in the “Xbox 360 Games” category.

Each post can have an unlimited number of tags and categories, so don’t be afraid to use them! Just a quick rule of thumb: Tags can be used for whatever terms you’d like, but for Categories, make sure that they aren’t made to file just one post. Categories should be used to classify many posts, while tags serve more as a keyword than anything.

Posts and Pages

WordPress allows you to maintain a blog as well as a website. Being able to distinguish Posts from Pages allows you to completely customize the way your site functions.

  • Posts – Posts are essentially just single articles that can be classified with the use of tags and categories. This is where the meat of your content will go, or at least it should. You do not want to create a page for an article unless you plan on it being an entire section of your site.
  • Pages – Pages are the opposite of posts. They serve as an individual page that has custom information pertaining to a specific function. For example, whereas a post would be an article, a page would be a Contact Us form, an About Us page, or an About the Author page. Additionally, with a little bit of HTML skill, you can create your own page templates to only display a list of articles with certain tags or categories. Pages can be extremely powerful in building a website, but they will usually require knowledge of HTML and PHP or the use of a plugin in order to fully customize the look and feel of the page itself.

Blog Options

If you have yet to fill out your blog options during the installation, then you want to take care of that before setting out on writing content. Under the settings tab in the admin interface, you will notice options such as General, Writing, Reading, and so forth.

  • General – The General tab is where most of your site’s meta information is modified. In this tab, you can set your WordPress site’s title, tagline, domain name, email address, and time zone settings. All of these settings are crucial to first setting up your blog and allowing it to run properly, so be sure to fill out this information! This should be your first course of action after you install WordPress.
  • Writing – The writing tab pertains to the default settings when writing a post. Configuring these settings allows for using WordPress more fluidly and with less initial set-up for each post. You can also configure WordPress to publish posts via Email in this tab.
  • Reading – The Reading tab only contains a few options, but they are also very useful in controlling the design and flow of your Home Page and Posts. You can customize the posts that appear on your Home Page, optimize syndication feeds, and turn off Search Engine Indexing. We don’t know why you’d want to do that last option, but the option is always there if need be.
  • Discussion – The Discussion tab allows you to modify how comments work on your WordPress blog. Extensive filters allow you to block out spam comments and control how the comments section of your posts looks.
  • Media – The Media tab is often overlooked, and for good reason. WordPress usually knows what’s best, and so these settings should only be changed if you are a web developer looking to create your own template.
  • Permalinks – The Permalinks tab is very important for Search Engine Optimization. If your post’s URL is something like http://MyBlog.com/?p=123, then Search Engines don’t know what to expect upon visiting the link. You should set the permalink structure of your WordPress blog to something that uses keywords and post titles for increased Search Engine Visibility. An example of an ideal Permalink structure is something along the lines of http://MyBlog.com/blog/top-10-Wordpress-hosts/. Notice how the post title and keywords are now visible.

Plugins

Plugins are a great way to increase functionality in your WordPress blog. The best part? WordPress hosts a database of free and paid plugins. Just go to your plugins tab, select “Add New,” and you can search for whatever plugin you desire. Note: If you are using a free WordPress blog, you cannot use plugins.

Here are a few plugins we recommend to optimize your WordPress blog:

  • WP Super Cache – WP Super Cache saves copies of your blog’s pages in order to speed up your site for visitors. In addition, the speed boost obtained from this plugin will make your WordPress blog more valuable in the eyes of search engines such as Google. Loading speeds are very important!
  • Shareaholic – Every blogger wants visitors, and social media is a great way to obtain them. Shareaholic places customizable sharing buttons on your posts, effectively adding an extra source of potential traffic.
  • Google Analytics – Being able to track where your visitors came from, what they are doing on your blog, and how they are leaving your blog are all crucial steps to being an effective blogger. You need search metrics, and Google Analytics provides them…in real time. Set up a Google Analytics account, generate a tracking code, and install the Google Analytics plugin with the provided tracking code to gain access to valuable search and behavior metrics.
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast – Search Engine Optimization is the name of the game in blogging. While you don’t necessarily need to target specific keywords, Yoast’s SEO plugin comes packed with other functionality. It can clean up your Permalinks, generate sitemaps for Google Webmaster Tools, and optimize the metadata tags on your blog to allow Google to easily index and classify your content. This plugin is a must-have.

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

If you are serious about blogging, you are going to need traffic, and lots of it. Luckily, search engines love WordPress blogs! Sign up for free Google Analytics and Webmaster tools accounts and they will love your blog even more!

Google Analytics provides real-time analytics of your blog’s visitors. This includes data on how the visitor found your blog, what they did on your blog, how long they stayed on your blog, and how they left your blog. Access to these metrics allow you to correct errors in your posts and verify what you are doing wrong/right while writing compelling content.

Google Webmaster Tools is a platform that allows you to submit your website to Google and control how it is displayed in search results. Google is highly unlikely to index your site for a long time if you do not manually submit it to Webmaster Tools, so be sure to sign up for an account and submit your blog. Additionally, if you have the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, you can submit your sitemap and Google will regularly visit your blog to check if there is new content.

WORDPRESS TIPS

We’ve covered WordPress Installation and the various functions and options of WordPress, but we still have a few miscellaneous tips to give you before releasing you into the blogging world.

WordPress Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is a critical part of running a successful blog. Without visitors, what good is writing content? As stated before, Google loves WordPress’s classification and permalink abilities, so why not take advantage of those abilities? Here are a few WordPress SEO pointers:

  1. Install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin and modify the options to your liking. Yoast has included some extremely powerful tools to boost your Search Engine rankings, so why not take advantage? After all, the plugin is free.
  2. Use tags and categories. Google loves being able to determine what content goes where, and how each post relates to one another. By using categories and tags, you are essentially helping Google classify and rank your content!
  3. Submit your website to Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Yahoo.You want your blog to be visible to as many people as possible, so target the big three search engines for maximum visibility.
  4. Social Network. It’s that easy. Start discussions with readers and other bloggers. They will not only give you ideas for content, but they will also visit your WordPress blog, share your posts, and provide valuable insights on your content.

Free WordPress Templates and Themes

WPExplorer.com has a listing of tons of great themes and templates for WordPress. Take a look around their site and find one that you and your readers like. Remember: sometimes simplicity is the best option.

If you are using a free WordPress.com blog or do not want to manually install themes, both the free and official WordPress versions offer a built-in theme search that allows you to find templates with ease, so if you are not tech savvy, fret not! WordPress still has the built-in option to find themes. Just visit your admin panel, navigate to the Appearance tab, and click on Themes. This will list thumbnails for each installed theme, as well as display a blank thumbnail that redirects you to WordPress’s built-in theme search.

CONCLUSION

I hope you have found this article to be helpful. I have been working with WordPress blogs for over two years now, and trust me when I say it gets incredibly easy. Just take the time to explore the various options of WordPress and mess around with layout and content settings and you’ll be a pro in no time!

I wish you all the best on your new blog, and hope that you will reach out to me via comments if you have any problems, concerns, or would just like to say hello!

Until next time!

What is a Trojan Virus?

WHAT IS A TROJAN VIRUS?

Don’t become stuck with a trojan virus! Read this article and stay informed.

trojan virus, also known as a trojan horse, is a serious type of computer virus. A trojan virus is designed to download, install, and hide other viruses from anti virus programs. This allows viruses to run rampant on your system without your knowledge!

The above description is a basic rundown of trojan viruses, but it doesn’t go into detail on the process of the virus itself. To fully understand the malware, we must ask ourselves the question: What is a Trojan Virus?

What is a Trojan Virus: History of the Trojan Virus

The term “trojan” dates all the way back to the Trojan War. The Greek army offered the Trojan army a large wooden horse as a peace offering. However, unbeknownst to the Trojan Army, the wooden horse was filled with Greek soldiers. As soon as the Trojans allowed the horse into the city, the Greeks emerged and overtook the city.

A Trojan Virus is very much the same thing. As a user downloads a malicious program, the trojan virus uses security loopholes in the Windows operating system to set itself up, often displaying a fake error message stating that the program is corrupted or does not work. After the user runs the program, installs malware that hides itself in the Windows filesystem. From there, the user’s computer is completely vulnerable to anything the creator of the trojan virus wishes. He can install keylogger software that tracks your keyboard’s input and steals personal information such as credit cards, social security numbers, and private files on the victim’s computer. Additionally, he can “sell” your computer to other hackers who wish for their malicious software to be installed. The trojan virus market is very large, and infected computers are high in demand!

What is a Trojan Virus: What can a Trojan Virus Install?

Trojan Viruses can install many types of malware on your computer. Below is a list of common viruses that stem from trojan viruses:

  • AdWare – AdWare is a common component of a trojan virus. Aimed at making the creator money off of ad revenue, trojan viruses install AdWare to display advertisements on your computer. This includes pop-ups and other unwanted advertisements that can be placed anywhere on Windows.
  • Keyloggers – A trojan virus is not a trojan virus unless it comes bundled with some type of keylogger. Keyloggers can track the input of your keyboard and steal personal information such as credit card numbers and passwords. These are commonly found in trojan viruses.
  • Rootkits – Mentioned before, rootkits hide trojans and other viruses from both Windows and antivirus programs. These can be very dangerous, and their removal, along with the removal of the trojan virus itself, can cause Windows to not run correctly.
  • Worms – A trojan virus can sometimes install a computer worm. These special viruses attach themselves to any and all files on the victom’s computer. When a file is transfered to another computer, it can then spread to that computer. Worms are becoming less and less common with trojan viruses, but they still are being made, and they can produce devastating effects.

What is a Trojan Virus: How do I remove a Trojan Virus?

Removing a trojan virus is no easy task. The virus is so deeply rooted into the Windows filesystem that it can block Windows from even seeing the file. You see, Windows runs on a “kernel,” or a basic set of operations that provide functionality to the rest of the system. A trojan virus can hook into the Windows kernel and prevent data being sent back to the front end of windows, effectively making the trojan invisible. However, being able to do this in the first place is extremely difficult to do. Despite this, hackers have created separate malware programs such as rootkits to make this process much easier.

To remove a trojan virus, users should use the built-in trojan and rootkit scanner that comes with Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2015. Kaspersky is the leading antivirus company, and their trojan virus scanner is unparalleled in today’s market. Additionally, Kaspersky offers a boot disc that runs separately from Windows, making it impossible for the trojan virus to hide.

What is a Trojan Virus: How can I prevent a Trojan Virus?

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your computer. In order to prevent a trojan virus from infecting your computer, be sure to follow the steps below:

  • Always download files from a trusted website – Check the URL of the website you are downloading files from to ensure that it is a trustworthy site.
  • Scan files before opening them – Once the damage is done, it is very difficult to repair. Thus, users should always run a virus scan on any file they download. Luckily, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2015 does this automatically, and it will alert you if it finds a problem.
  • Beware of Phishing Emails – If you receive an email from an unknown sender and it contains a link or attachment, it is very likely to be a trojan virus or some other kind of virus. Because of this, discard any untrusted emails that you may receive.
  • Keep Java Up-To-Date – Java was recently updated to fix a security loophole that allowed attackers to install a trojan virus on unexpecting users. To prevent this from happening in the future, be sure to update Java frequently.

Now you can answer the question yourself: What is a Trojan Virus? Trojan Viruses are deadly, and they can cause your computer to completely fail if left on your system for too long. Be weary of what you download, and stay safe!

What is a Trojan Virus: Resources

For more information on “What is a Trojan Virus?” please refer to the following resources:

  • What is a Trojan Virus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_horse_%28computing%29
  • Kaspersky Labs (Trojan Virus Explaination): http://usa.kaspersky.com/internet-security-center/threats/trojans

Grand Theft Auto 5 PC Unlock Times and System Requirements

Gamers have long awaited the release of Grand Theft Auto 5 for the PC. After numerous delays backed up by quality assurance, Rockstar has released their game for the PC.

The PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5 is an updated version of 2013’s best-selling release. With 4k support, 60 Frames-Per-Second gameplay, a new first person mode, the addition of online heists, and a complete graphics overhaul, Grand Theft Auto 5 PC is set to be the greatest, most immersive version yet.

Gamers lucky enough to live in the United States gain access to the game hours before the clock strikes midnight. Here are a list of time zones and their corresponding unlock times:

  • 4/13 at 4:00 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST)
  • 4/13 at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
  • 4/14 at 12:00 AM British Standard Time (BST)
  • 4/14 at 7:00 AM Austrailian Western Standard Time (AWST)
  • 4/14 at 9:00 AM Austrailian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)
Update: Those who are having issues with Steam decrypting the game, simply restart Steam and the problem will resolve.

Update 2: Some who have pre-loaded the game are reporting that decrypting the game requires double the space, amounting to 130GB. Those who do not have enough hard drive space may need to re-download the game.

Rockstar Games has confirmed that these are indeed the times that Grand Theft Auto 5 PC (GTA 5 PC) will be unlocked on Steam and ready to play. However, the pre-load version of the game is over 62GB of data, so to those who have yet to pre-load the game: You should probably start moving!

Grand Theft Auto 5 PC (also known as GTA 5 PC) is a remaster of the original GTA 5 release for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 4 platforms. In the game, the player assumes the role of three main characters who all meet each other under odd circumstances and eventually team up to pull off a bank heist. The game also includes an online mode called GTA Online where players can create their own character and complete missions, races, or just mess around in Los Santos. Grand Theft Auto 5 PC releases April 14th.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

GTA 5 PC Minimum Requirements

  • Processor (CPU): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz or AMD Phenom 9850 Quad-Core Black Edition
  • Graphics Card GPU): nVidia GeForce 9800GT or ATI Radeon HD 4870
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Operating System: Windows 7 x64
  • Hard Drive Space: 65GB
  • DirectX Version: DirectX 10

GTA 5 PC Recommended Requirements

  • Processor (CPU): Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz or AMD FX-8350
  • Graphics Card GPU): nVidia GeForce GTX 660 or ATI Radeon HD7870
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Operating System: Windows 8 x64
  • Hard Drive Space: 65GB
  • DirectX Version: DirectX 11

Tech Reviews Feed – A New Way to Stay Up-To-Date

We here at Tech Review Feed aim at delivering quality reviews on the latest and greatest inventions of the gaming world. We scour the web in search of amazing gadgets and products that we know people will love and compile them into one place, complete with a rundown of the product and a short review of each.

Tell your friends! We have big plans and aim to deliver quality reviews at a rapid pace. The technological world is constantly evolving, and staying up to date on all of the innovative products is the smart thing to do. This includes being informed of both quality products and products to steer clear of. Being in the know is invaluable, and we hope to provide an excellent track record of honest, quality reviews.