What is web 3.0?

Currently we’re in “Web 2.0”, but transitioning to 3.0. What does that mean? I’ll give you a super quick history lesson. The first version of the internet contained static (boring) pages. Basically, they were placeholders until web gurus, marketers, and admin could figure out what to do. The first websites were basically static billboards. Companies like Coca Cola needed to claim their domain, so that they could retain control of their company image. Some guy even bought madona.com, and the real Madona had to take him to court, which set a precedent on ownership rights.

When interaction capabilities were beginning to be built into web experiences with platforms like PHPBB, Friendster, MySpace, etc, this became known as “Web 2.0” as interaction became a distinct evolution from the billboard-like experiences we had before. Of course, because there’s things to do and hold our attention, new independent websites like YouTube, the early Twitter and FaceBook exploded in popularity (YouTube was eventually bought by Google).

CC0 UnSplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/meeting-pencils-macbook-notebooks-40120/
CC0 UnSplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/meeting-pencils-macbook-notebooks-40120/

So, that is the internet we’ve experienced up until this year. For a few years now, people like me (Andrew) has expressed serious concerns about privacy, and our rights to own our data (see bibliography at the bottom of this article). These were ignored. Basically, people ignore or remain naive to an issue until we or our friends are hurt, then we hear or tell everyone around us about it, and then change our behaviour. With revelations that the US intelligence community has been vacuuming up our data as it passes through US territory, the constant leak of passwords and private information from Yahoo, and now Facebook (via Cambridge Analytica), and the missuse and abuse of trust, we’re now on the verge of changing the internet again.

So, what will Web 3.0 look like?

We’ve already started evolving into that. You’ve seen vestiges of it already in place. The fact that you’re reading this is apart of Web 3.0 already. Let me explain.

The new internet will be about security, privacy, and human rights; both in support and opposition to it. Security, privacy, and human rights in the digital realm is the new activists battle ground. In China, we see the government demanding to snoop and spy on their citizens. Encryption and VPNs are now banned in China, except where it would interrupt international commerce and trade. In the US we see election candidates wanting to snoop and spy on citizens, and use that information to influence your thinking. In Europe and Switzerland, we see that snooping and spying on citizens are outlawed, except in cases approved by the court (with a search warrant like process) to allow for criminal investigation. The worst that can happen with your personal data is:

1. Governments will use it to falsely accuse you of crimes and punish you. We see this already happening to human rights advocates in Vietnam and China, and against minority groups in the US.

2. Abused by employees of the government to monitor people within their own families or neighborhoods. Also employers abuse their access and privilege to spy on employees, which has had serious consequences already.

3. Accessed by criminals to steal your personal data. Identity theft is a very common digital crime. Criminals can impersonate you, and take out credit cards and loans in your name. They then wrack up a debit of which you are responsible for, and it destroys the credit rating of Americans, which is particularly harmful to them. This type of crime is difficult for the police to investigate as it is often committed internationally, and because your own personal computer security is so bad, the police can’t even determine how the criminals got your data, so beginning an investigation is difficult.

Group discussion. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-office-team-collaboration-7075/
Group discussion. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-office-team-collaboration-7075/

What you can do?

Here are the tools and features of Web 3.0:

SSL certificates. Basic SSL certificates are available to all our customers for free. These are the green padlocks you see in the address bar of your browser. The web address should start with “https” not “http”; the ‘s’ indicates a secure and encrypted connection. That means, if you’re using public wifi, criminals cannot see your login username or password, but they can if you didn’t use an SSL connection.

FireFox or Brave. These are web browsers that are so much more secure than Microsoft Explorer or Edge. Set these to “Never remember browsing history”, or “Clear browsing data after closing”, and never store passwords.

For secure communication, use Whatsapp, the best is Telegram.

For secure email use Gmail or protonmail.com (Yahoo often gets hacked, so never use it). Just know that Gmail is owned by Google, and so any data you have there, is accessible by Google (and their national government).

Use a VPN like PureVPN or similar. A VPN hides your geographical location, and encrypts your data, so no-one can snoop on your communications. Never use a “free” VPN. They make money from selling your data. Always pay for a VPN, because those companies make money from you, not from selling your data.

For cloud and online file storage, don’t use DropBox, it is not secure. Use Tresorit. Tresorit has never been hacked, and is the most secure system we know. Tresorit also synchronises your files between computers, office network, or just your only computer and cloud. If your house is ever burgled or burnt down, you haven’t lost your important files.

Don’t use Google for searches. Google also vacuums up your data, information, interests, search history, everything. They can match it to you via your ip address whether your signed in or not. Use Duckduckgo.com instead. They do not store your data, and they redirect your searches to a variety of search engines, and so you get a wider variety of responses anyway, and your searches are anonymised. That means, that health problem you think you have, you won’t see ads for treatments appearing on every website you visit. Fun Freaky fact: Amazon knows if a woman is pregnant before she does, just by analysing her searches, and comparing it to historical data of women who have bought baby items.

For your own website, of course use us, HelloSpace.Me. Our servers are expertly maintained, and are physically located in Switzerland. That means your data is protected under Swiss Privacy laws, and under Swiss Data Protection laws. Which means, only a judge in a criminal investigation can allow access to our servers, but only to a specific persons account. So far, we’ve never received such a request; if we do, we will seek legal advice before permitting investigators access. Conversely, US intelligence already has unfettered access to US webhosting companies anyway, which makes us the best option. Finally, we keep your data to ourselves, and we only collect the vital data we need so that you can maintain the essential functions of your account with us. We do not over-collect (get data we don’t need), and we do not share or sell it to anyone. There are some services where this is necessary, such as your domain registration, and any additional features you purchase for your website that are provided by third-party sellers.

Never over-share your information. Avoid publicising your identifying data like your date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, your preferred bank, and such. Don’t engage in/with political messages whilst using your real name. Use a pseudonym (which were commonly used in Web 1.0 and early 2.0) with a VPN when you’re engaging in political or social activism.

For more information, see Andrew’s publications:

  • Blyth, A. (2015) Social Media Ethics. The JALT CALL Journal, 11/2, 173-184. [journal link]
  • Blyth, A. (2011) Cookies and Breadcrumbs: Ethical Issues in CALL. ELT Journal, 65(4), 470-472. [abstract link] [Full text pdf]

Transferring your domain, website, and WordPress to us

Yes, it is possible. In fact, it’s even possible to import your Tumblr (among others, see just below) to your new WordPress. Word of caution, importing things will always be like moving house, a dinner plate will get broken, a shoe will get lost; most of all things imported to the new website or new account will be fine, but there will always be something not quite hooked up, but still there. For a nominal fee, we can perform this service for you, see WordPress Transfer & Setup; otherwise, you can follow these steps below yourself.

* WordPress can import:  WordPress, Blogger, Blogroll, LiveJournal, Movable Type, TypePad, and Tumblr (correct as of 27th Dec 2017).

When you move to us, follow these steps:

1. Do a complete backup of your old website. We recommend downloading everything from your public_html folder using an FTP program like Filezila or similar. Especially download your …blog/wp-content/uploads/…

> Click on the image to see larger

An FTP program downloading the folders and files from a website
An FTP program downloading the folders and files from a website
Use an FTP program to download your website contents
Use an FTP program to download your website contents

2. Export your WordPress to an .xml file (or similar); store it in three safe places (1. on your computer; 2. on a USB memory stick kept in a safe place; 3. in the cloud on Tresorit or DropBox)

WordPress Export
WordPress Export

3. Keep the old webhosting account open for as long as possible (at least a month) so you can access any forgotten files.

4. Unlock your domain (it’s a security feature to prevent others from stealing it). Be sure to lock it again when you have it re-established with us.

Transfer Domain from an Old Webhost
Transfer Domain from an Old Webhost

5. Obtain your EPP code (a security code that lets domain registrars and webhosts know that the transfer is authorised, and it prevents domain theft)

Transfering a Domain from Old Webhost EPP Code
Transfering a Domain from Old Webhost EPP Code

6. Open an account with us, and use the Transfer Domain button

Transferring your Domain from your Old Webhost
Transferring your Domain from your Old Webhost
Transferring Domain to Us
Transferring Domain to Us

7. It can take 7 to 14 days for the transfer to complete (we’ve seen it take more than 21 days; strangely it’s a manual process)

8. While waiting, setup a new “Home Page” with Site Publisher, to act as a landing page, or copy and paste your existing .html site into your new public_html folder in your cPanel File Manager (details in your email you received from us). Use this page to link to your subdomains and web apps like your blog, social media, and more.

Create a simple one-page homepage with Site Publisher 1
Create a simple one-page homepage with Site Publisher 1
Create a simple one-page homepage with Site Publisher 2
Create a simple one-page homepage with Site Publisher 2

9. Once the domain transfer is complete, log into your cPanel (yourwebsite.com:2083), go to Softaculous, and install WordPress.

10. Advice, use the same Username and Password for your ‘new’ WordPress installation as before on your old webhost.

11. Important step: import all the photos and uploads from the old WordPress. These go into …/blog/wp-content/uploads/…  You may have a lot of folders here. It’s much, much easier to use an FTP program like Filezila, which can upload the whole “Uploads” folder for you. In one of your emails from us, there is information on your FTP username, password, and address.

12. After putting all the Uploads in place, go to your WordPress Dashboard, go to Tools, go to import, install the WordPress import tool, run WordPress importer, and upload your .xml file from your old site. Everything should work fine (except for one or two unavoidable glitches). You may need to reinstall the theme you used before.

WordPress Importer
WordPress Importer

If there are upload file size problems

You may have a problem with upload file size. First, in cPanel, go to Search and lookup phpini and use the Multi PHP INI Manager to change the maximum upload file size from 2 to 4 or 8mb. Second, and only if editing the phpini file doesn’t work, edit the .htaccess file (as shown in the images below). In cPanel, go to File Manager, go to Settings (top right), turn on Show Hidden Files, and press OK. Go to .htaccess file, and either change the max upload from 2 to 4 or 8mb or add the code “php_value upload_max_filesize 4M” precisely (without the quotation marks; highlight, copy & paste if you’re unsure).

How to edit the .htaccess file
How to edit the .htaccess file
How to edit the .htaccess file 2
How to edit the .htaccess file 2

If you have any problems, please contact us. Alternatively, we can perform the WordPress importing service for you (see WordPress Transfer & Setup). Either send us your .xml file or give us your old account login and WordPress login and we can manage the rest for you (we have our own supply of headache tablets).

I’m a teacher. How can I make money from my own website?

We all feel a little entrepreneurial or have in interest in joining the gig economy for other reasons. Whatever your motivation, yes, you can make money from your own website. You can sell books, t-shirts, and even digital photos with web apps like Blesta (ask us how). However, HelloSpace.Me is primarily for the education community, and we know that every little extra penny helps.

Option 1: Use your website to create, cultivate, maintain, and manage your professional identity. Install a blog app (like WordPress or Serendipity), and post your classroom things and use it like an online textbook. Potential employers like that, and are more likely to choose you over other candidates who don’t. If you’re more academically inclined, use your blog to post your ideas, discuss topics you are reading about, and insights as your going about a research project. It builds a network around you, and again creates a reputation that future employers notice.

CC0 UnSplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/meeting-pencils-macbook-notebooks-40120/
CC0 UnSplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/meeting-pencils-macbook-notebooks-40120/

Option 2: Online teaching and/or billing private lessons. Advertise and promote yourself. Have a central location where potential students can find out more about you. Handout business cards with your own website on it, and potential students can find you and sign up for your English class, maths tutorials, or even your yoga classes. Use SiteBuilder to create a simple homepage, and easily install Dokeos for your online interaction (with webcam) app. Easily install and use Invoice Ninja as a payment gateway for students, and use UStream (how to make a private stream) or DaCast (how to make a private stream) to do live streams from your own home office. Or, just easily install and use Invoice Ninja and Booked to organise your yoga classes. Whatever your thing is, we have options and solutions. Ask us for suggestions.

To get the ball rolling, get your own domain (web address) and webspace with us, then you can install the apps mentioned above. All our apps are one-click install, and no coding needed. Currently, our prices are at over 40% until 9th August 2017. See “coupon” for possible more discounts.

Interview with John about online reputations and job interviews

This is literally our very first interview, and we’re as nervous as we are excited to share this with you. Despite some technical difficulty, we have this to share with you, and hope that it’s of a huge help for you. Please subscribe to our shiny new YouTube Channel so you can get updates, how-tos, and other great interviews.

This interview was about developing an online reputation that can help you land your next job. Thanks so much to John of Nanzan University for his insights, and his help with this. As you will see, John strongly recommends you set up, develop, and cultivate an online presence. To get started, see our plans, especially the WordPress and Lite Plans.

What is Mahara the ePortfolio System

Mahara Learning Management System
Mahara Learning Management System

Mahara is an ePortfolio system, sort of like Moodle, but a lot better. Mahara is much more humanistic, and allows for student interaction, collaboration, and for easily auditing learning. HelloSpace.Me is promoting Mahara to our members as we know it’s the future for education.

You can install Mahara on your own website and use it to oversee students’ progress, collaborate with colleagues, and even to oversee employees. Students use it to monitor and track their own learning, and they upload examples of their progress: creating a learning portfolio. You can use it as a teacher to view and track learning.

For more information see:

We suggest you install it on your own website with Softaculous (easy installation available for all our members) and try it out. How?

  1. Create your own website > See here.
  2. Log into your cPanel
  3. Go to Softaculous
  4. Search for “Mahara”
  5. Install it (under yourdomain.com/mahara)
  6. (optional) In cPanel, go to SubDomains, create the /mahara subdomain (use the same folder you created via Softaculous)
  7. Log into your new Mahara, and try it out. Play around with it. Create fake student accounts and see what you can do. It can be deleted if you decide it’s not for you.
  8. Most people realise the benefits Mahara has to support the learning process. However, if you choose to delete it make a backup copy of everything on your website. Then in cPanel, go to File Manager and delete the Mahara folder, delete the subdomain allocation (if you made one), and go to PHP Admin and delete the Mahara database (be very careful not to delete other databases like your WordPress).

The best guilt-free healthy snacks to keep your energy up during the day

We’re teachers, we know what it’s like to be dragging ourselves when we’re low-energy or weak with hunger. Thank goodness for the short breaks between classes where we can get a bite to tide us over. As you know, HelloSpace.Me is a socially responsible company, and so what can be compatible with our hunger pangs?

Chocolate bars are easy to get, tasty, but very, very bad. The palm oil used in chocolate bars is the main reason for forests being cleared for farming in countries like Indonesia. The cocoa plantations globally are starting to suffer diseases caused by mono-culture farming. That is, if one tree can be infected, then the disease can go unstopped across the whole plantation, which results in lower yields, and is a reason for the slow rise of chocolate prices. The other ingredients are not organic, and may contain organophosphates, and other chemicals that are allergenic or carcinogenic. However, your energy is low, you have a class to keep engaged and energised, and it’s still another hour or more until lunch or dinner.

Thankfully we have iHerb! Get healthy snack bars that use organically grown ingredients, which are also healthy. iHerb snacks are often low sugar but high in other things like protein or fiber to help you make it to the next real meal. Be guilt free and healthy at the same time.

Quick bites and snacks available from iHerb. Use WZC316 to save 5%.
Quick bites and snacks available from iHerb. Use WZC316 to save 5%.

iHerb offers fast shipping (free when over a certain amount is ordered), great customer service, and great socially responsible selection of products for your desk drawer, and for home. Our favourite grabs are the Eden Wild Berry Mix and the Cliff oatmeal bars. Oh! And the Rise coconut & acai bars are heavenly. Use our code, WZC316, to get 5% off your order, which also helps fund our community activities. Tell us what your favourite iHerb bites are in the comments below.

Quick bites and snacks available from iHerb. Use WZC316 to save 5%.
Quick bites and snacks available from iHerb. Use WZC316 to save 5%.

5 easy steps to keep student data safe

We live and teach in the 21st Century (though some colleagues are not aware of this), which means everything is digitised. Everything is digitised because it makes life easy. When we lived in the paper age (as opposed to the stone and the digital ages), we kept student records locked in filing cabinets, locked inside of teacher’s rooms, locked inside the school. So, it was kept from anyone who couldn’t pick locks. Now, we have hackers, and so a different way of keeping student data safe is required. It actually isn’t hard. There are of course many other suggestions, these are just for starters.

1. Use HelloSpace.Me

Ok, we’re biased. But listen why. We have our servers in Switzerland for a very, very, good, very important, ultra-good, super-important reason. All data and information are protected under gold-standard Swiss laws. Which means, unlike certain other anglophone countries, cannot be accessed by government, government agencies, third-party companies, and others. So, that means you need to have your website hosted by us. Here is the obligatory Buy Now link.

2. Use an SSL Certificate on your website

An SSL Certificate adds the “s” for “secure” to your http (literally). So your web address will be https:// which means, all traffic will be parsed through that secure portal. That means passwords, usernames, and info are kept hidden from prying eyes. This is particularly important if you’re using wifi almost anywhere, or using a LAN network anywhere. Sadly, you just can’t start typing in https into your web address. For it to work, you need to purchase a certificate and install it. An SSL certificate has secure mechanisms built in to protect you, and your website users. Here is the super useful Buy SSL Now link.

3. Use your own cloud or Tresorit

For storing info and sensitive records don’t rely on USB memory sticks, your own computer, or DropBox. USB memory sticks are easily lost or taken. Your own computer can be stolen, destroyed (think fire or virus), and DropBox is not secure. Instead, on your own website install and SSL certificate with ownCloud to keep all your data off-site (not away from your teacher’s desk), but easily accessible to only you. Whilst we and your website has great security, we have to admit that Tresorit is better. Tresorit is like DropBox, but way, way more secure and they are the supreme experts for online security. Tresorit is a Swiss company, and they also take privacy very seriously.

Woman working on a computer. CC0 Unsplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-blur-business-busy-271560/
Woman working on a computer. CC0 Unsplash, https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-blur-business-busy-271560/

4. Lock your devices

What can prying eyes access? Your Twitter, your Google Docs, your dating app, and others. They especially want to access your email address first. Let’s say your Google Docs account (where you keep grades stored), the thief can reset your password, and so they need to receive a confirmation email and approve the change. Once that is done, then they can change the email address designated in the account. Once that is done, then you’ve completely lost control of the account. Keep prying fingers and eyes out by setting a password or passphrase. All devices like smartphones, computers, and tablets all have an auto-close feature. Even with Windows 10, if you haven’t used it for a while, the screensaver activates, and to re-enter, you shake the mouse and then can be prompted to enter a password. Additionally, iOS devices (like iPhones and iPads) can be set to auto-wipe all data that’s stored on the device (not in your accounts) if the wrong password was entered 9 consecutive times.

5. Use a strong password

We cannot stress this enough. We know it’s said ad nauseam on the net, but a lot of people don’t really understand what this means. When hackers got into Adobe and stole their password database, at first, Adobe said something like, “It’s ok, all the passwords are encrypted, they can’t see anything”. The hackers then got to work to crack the encryption. A password might be “fluffybunnies”, which is encrypted to something like “dksdiud8393iegh8e48ej”. So, each letter or number corresponds to a real letter in the real password. It’s impossible to figure out the encrypted version of the password, except if parsed output corresponds to a real dictionary word. As it turns out, many years ago a huge number of Adobe users set their passwords to “password”, “12345678”, “adobe”, “adobe123”, or similar. The hackers only needed to figure out what combination of encrypted version will return a hit on a dictionary word like “password” or “adobe”. In actual fact, hackers broke the encryption for the entire database in a matter of days because so many people could use the word “adobe” and “password” for their password. Consequently, avoid using dictionary words, and other words like “password”, “adobe”, and of course “hellospaceme”.

So, how do you make a secure password? It’s easy. Answer this question, “What is your favourite song?”. Let’s say it’s “Firework”, by Katy Perry. The lyrics are:

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on let your colours burst
Make them go, “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave them all in awe

So, take the first letter of each word, and add a symbol or number. The number could be the year you set the password, or your age. So, your password would be, “byafcolycb17”. Even if the password is decrypted by a hacker, it still looks like nonsense, and will be rejected. You’ll have won; Hackers 0, You 1. Finally, don’t use the same password for everything. Yahoo has been hacked not once, but so many times that we have changed our passwords many times in the last few years. So, make it a rule to, at least, change all your passwords the day before your birthday every year.

Finally

Finally, there are more ideas and advice that can be given, but this is just a start to whet your security-appetite (wow, I feel so awkwardly geeky writing that). In any case, look out for more articles from us. If you liked this article, please share it with friends and colleagues through your favourite social media.

5 web apps teachers should consider

There is a lot of options available to HelloSpace.Me customers. Below are the five most recommended for teachers to use. These are relatively easy to install, manage, update, and are useful. Our members only need to login to their own cPanel, go to Softaculous, and choose what they want to install. Softaculous provides one-click automatic installation on to your own website, and doesn’t require any coding or technical skills. To see what is available, see Softaculous in your cPanel, or the KnowledgeBase.

1. WordPress

It’s obvious to suggest, but let’s look at why. Our first advertisement we posted was to the KOTESOL website, which was an animated banner repeating this mantra, “A teacher’s blog is their online textbook, noticeboard, career portfolio, and a lot more”. We believe that a blog is the most useful tool for this mantra, as it allows teachers to provide access to information, knowledge, and sources to students, parents, colleagues, and to potential employers. We have even written a page with +9 Reasons Why, which is actually currently on eleven reasons.

There are many blog software options. However, we strongly recommend WordPress because it is currently the most popular (about 30% of the world’s websites uses WP). Being the most popular comes with a number of important benefits, including the security and third party support. This means you can add a range of plugins to add useful features to the blog. Also, there is a huge range of themes, which means your blog can look as unique as you like.

Using WordPress, CC0 Pixabay, https://www.pexels.com/photo/business-coffee-composition-computer-265667/
Using WordPress, CC0 Pixabay, https://www.pexels.com/photo/business-coffee-composition-computer-265667/

Finally, there is a smartphone and tablet app that makes creating and updating your WordPress blog easy. Whilst your students are working, you can on your phone be updating the homework list, or correcting a minor error on the website. All you need is a device, the app, and an internet connection.

Want your own website to install these great web apps? Go here >>>

2. Mahara

Mahara describes itself as an ePortfolio System; we call it a Learning Management System (LMS). Most people will say that Moodle is the best LMS. It is popular, or popularly known; however, in our experience, it is visually unattractive, and so students are actually less inclined to use it. If the software looks good, then they’ll more easily, more frequently, use it. Consequently, Mahara has the edge over Moodle.  Furthermore, third-party Moodle apps are often behaviouristic, rather than humanistic, in nature. In contrast, Mahara allows for collaborative work, making it more humanistic (and more Vygotskian). It allows students to record evidence of their learning, and stores it for your easy access. Additionally, there is a Mahara app available for your smart device that allows you to create content on your Mahara site. You can add images, video, and journal entries. More info at Mahara. Other honorable mentions include Chamilo and Claroline.

3. ProjectSend

With Softaculous, it is really easy to install ProjectSend on your own website. ProjectSend is a great way for your students to upload electronic copies of their work for you. If you need an electronic copy of assignments for plagiarism checking, for paperless marking, providing feedback, whatever, this software is perfect. It’s also a great way to share files with your classes. Language teachers can create their own audio samples of pronunciation lists or dialogues, and share them with their students to practice listening skills. Find out more at ProjectSend.

4. OwnCloud

DropBox is not an option for everyone for a variety of reasons (see next weeks blog story). So, why not host your own cloud storage on your own website? It is easy to install. ownCloud on your own website is a great place to keep and store handouts that will be accessible from any internet connected device.  And yes, there’s an app for that, too (see the Apple AppStore). You can share folders so sharing files is much easier. Hosting OwnCloud gives you far more control, than other commercial options. Learn more at OwnCloud.

Want your own website to install these great web apps? Go here >>>

5. LimeSurvey

Install this on your own website, and use this for asking for opinions or to assist in a class research project. Develop students’ statistical and informational literacy. Use this to get feedback from students, or to check their comprehension. Researchers can even use this for their projects. Learn more at LimeSurvey.

Bonus: Open Conference Systems

Are you a member of a teacher’s organisation, and you need to host a conference, organisation publication, or more? You can easily install your own Open Conference Systems onto your own website. You can issue a call for abstracts, manage reviewers, manage acceptances, and a lot more. Find out more at Public Knowledge Project. Similar to this is Open Journal Systems, which assists in managing journal submissions and publications. Learn more at PKP/OJS.

Want your own website to install these great web apps? Go here >>>

Advice

To avoid conflicts between software installations, we strongly recommend all members to do the following:

  1. Backup any web apps you currently have installed
  2. Create a new subdomain (in cPanel), for instance /blog or /lms
  3. Go to Softaculous and install it into that subdomain.
  4. Do not use “admin” as the administration username, as it is the obvious one that hackers will use.
  5. Use a secure but memorable password.

A subdomain is like a separate filing cabinet, so files don’t get mixed up. The downside is, you may need to install a separate SSL certificate onto it. This might not require any additional purchase; try it and find out.

Often these software packages will use MySQL as the database system. Each new package you install will have it’s own database in MySQL, and make sure the username is unique. For instance, for WordPress do not use “WP”, as it is the name that hackers will target, but something like “WP007”. The WP is so you know what it means, and the number is meaningless, but makes it much, much more difficult for hackers to discover. All hosting packages have a limited number of MySQL databases allowed. Check your plan to see if you need to upgrade or not.

Most of the software we mentioned above are free and open source. Some require payment or subscriptions. Most allows you to customise at a fee. HelloSpace.Me and Softaculous only make it easy for you to install these web apps, and all other responsibility is shared between you and the software creator.

Finally, we really recommend checking YouTube for introduction videos and demonstrations on how to setup and use the software. Of course, most web software we make available for you is free, so try installing something, try it, and then uninstall it later if you don’t like it.

Want your own website to install these great web apps? Go here >>>

Opportunity for educationalist and tech writers

To all education and technology writers: you need an outlet to grow your audience and to get the word out about your work. HelloSpace.Me blog is a great place to publish. There are two options:

  1. Publish a full article on HelloSpace.Me/blog (about 1,000 words) or
  2. Publish a blurb for your full article (about 500 words; full article could be in a journal, book chapter, or your own blog)

Blogging is increasingly important for academics and teachers, as it is a means to make information accessible (Carrigan, 2016; Lupton, n.d). Blogging can be used to communicate with your audience about ideas before committing them to formal publishing; and you can extend your following. Academics are increasingly publishing their research ideas, literature searches, ‘early findings’, and other things on their personal blogs before research and traditional/formal publication (Carrigan, 2016; Lupton, n.d). So, if you have a research topic that is still being drafted for publication, it is a great idea to write up a short blurb, get an audience reaction, so that you can hone your research design, literature review, or final prior to publication article. Alternatively, if you have a great teaching idea that you wish to share, blog it with us. We do strongly recommend that you also publish on your own blog, and provide a blurb and links to your blog post, so you can make your blog the centre of your digital universe. After all, many recruiters ask about your social media presence and impact; this may help you a lot in your next job interview. See more about this at the +9 Reasons page.

Writing notes. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/writing-notes-idea-class-7103/
Writing notes. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/writing-notes-idea-class-7103/

What to do

Write up to about 1,000 words in simple, direct language. It’s best to include at least two references. Refine your article a few times; add a bio (maximum 50 words), and a link to your blog or to the full article on your blog (if you have one); find or create suitable images (if needed) from a source like Pexels.Com; then contact us. For extremely well researched and written articles, we may commission an artist to provide graphics. We will make an “Author” account for you on our blog, and send you the keys. You just need to copy & paste your article or blurb, bio, and blog link. We may do basic editing and push the “Publish” button. Please comment on other posts, and check out other people’s blogs. Who knows, you might find some exciting ideas, a great source, or great collaboration opportunities. Best of luck.

References

Carrigan, M. (2016) Social Media for Academics. Sage.

Lupton, D. (n.d.) https://simplysociology.wordpress.com/.

Security advice: SSL Certificates

By staff blogger Andrew Blyth

Many people claim that computer and online security is unnecessary and is geeky. In fact, these same people have locks on the doors of their house, locks on their windows, their garages, their mailbox, their car, and they have security features on their bank accounts. They even have curtains on their windows, fences around their property, and have an expectation that their home privacy is respected. They will even call the police if some creep is seen peering through their windows at night. Online privacy requires the same needs: curtains to obscure your activities, locks on personal information, locks on email access, and management of information.

There are a number of things everyone needs to do. In this series of articles that will be published over the next twelve months or more, we will explore this topic and present some practical advice. This article will introduce SSL certificates. Future articles will explore secure passwords, VPNs, anti virus & anti spyware software, online behaviour (including issues of social engineering attacks), trusted and public wifi, website security, trusted and unprotected web services, and more.

SSL Certificates

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are a system to protect secure information. Let’s say you are sitting in your favourite classroom, using wifi with your favourite laptop or tablet in hand, and you sign on. It could be any website, your own, your email, a social networking site, a cloud storage site, whatever. Without SSL, a hacker with very minimal skills (let’s say, a student of yours) can easily see your password. Let’s say your password is “fluffykittens001”; that student will first giggle, but then keep his/her mouth shut.

Later that night, you get a phone call from a friend saying that they saw “those photos” on FaceBook, how disgusting! Then you check your phone messages, and see similar responses. You turn on your computer at home and find a bunch of emails from friends and family expressing a range of shock, disgust, and perhaps unusual delight. You finally sign-in to FaceBook and see a whole bunch of offensive photos plastered across your wall. “How could this happen?!”

SSL Certificate, the green lock, and encryption
SSL Certificate, the green lock, and encryption

There are perhaps two issues here. Firstly, you use one password for everything. The student probably guessed that your FaceBook and other websites use the same password. Secondly, the password sent to the website you signed on during class was not encrypted, and so it was in plain sight. Nowadays, web browsers like Mozila Firefox and Google Chrome highlight if the website uses an SSL certificate or not. If the website has an SSL certificate, even a basic one, it will show this with a a green lock in the address bar (see the image above). Look at the top left of this window, HelloSpace.Me relies on SSL, and so should your own website. If a website doesn’t have a green lock, change the address prefix from http:// to https:// and see if the green lock appears. Adding ‘s’ is changing the traffic movement through the secure port of the site.

There are many other simple explanation videos like this on YouTube.

SSL certificates encrypt not all the traffic, but it should include important secure information like username, passwords, credit card numbers, and even the contents of the website, so that eavesdroppers cannot see what it is you’re reading. Also, SSL certificates are a confirmation that you are connected directly to the website, and not to some intermediary posing as that website monitoring its traffic. That way, when you buy a poster at FluffyKittens.Com, you are really connected to only that website, and not ScamArtist.Com/FluffyImposter.

Get an SSL Certificate now >>>

The Wikileaks Vault7 release was important and interesting (see here). It showed that not all SSL systems are the same. Firstly, the world’s most popular SSL system, Verisign, turned out to be the most hackable. Recently, it was revealed that Symantec employees even sold copies of Verisign SSL certificates to criminals so they can pose as intermediaries to legitimate websites. This means that you might thought you were updating your subscription to The Fluffy Kitten Magazine, when in fact you were signed onto an imposter website, and they got your credit card information. Secondly, the CIA described Comodo as a “pain in the posterior”, in other words, the most secure. Consequently, we do not sell Verisign any more, and we prefer and promote even the cheapest and simplest Comodo SSL.

We don’t have our own video yet, but we will soon. This link shows you a variety of ways to install a Comodo Certificate in cPanel, so you can protect your own website and sign in credentials. Soon, we hope to install an auto installation feature to make things easier for you.