How Hackers Can Hack You Using Social Engineering

Gone are the days when hackers use malicious code that you have to run on your computer for a hacker to get access to your machine.

Did you know that they can even watch you using your own web cam?

Watch how hackers obtain your personal information. This is from DEF CON.

Airplane Mode: What Happens if You Forget to Turn it On?

I am sure you have heard or seen the warning sign to turn of your mobile devices when you’re about to take off in an aeroplane.

please-turn-off-electronic-devices-sign-airplane

But what if you didn’t switch off your mobile? Will you cause an accident?

Apparently NOT.

Flying would be very scary if anyone one of us did not switch off our phone during a flight. If that was really the case, then airplanes would have those devices seen in movies where mobile signals are blocked within a certain radius.

But if mobile phones are harmless, then why do they ask us to switch off or put our phones on Airplane Mode during each flight.

The problem lies with your mobile phone trying to make contact with the nearest ground tower. According to Wikipedia, “In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricts cell phone usage on aircraft in order to prevent disruption to cellular towers on the ground.”

The premise given is that most mobile phone towers were not designed to keep track of mobile phones whizzing around them at around 400 km/h. Most mobile phone towers have a donut shaped range – any handphone in this range gets captured by the mobile tower.

Source of pictures: Datasync

4dip-pat

The vertical range is about 8000 feet or 2400 meters.

cellair-a

 

A plane traveling at an altitude of  1000 feet or 300 meters at 500 knots will have a window of opportunity to get a signal in the white region shown below. The grey region is the region with no signal due to the Doppler Blocking effect.

ca2mov

At a slower speed, the window of opportunity widens.

cellair3

In other words, during take off and landing is your best chance to make calls as the window of opportunity to get a decent cell phone signal drops of as the plane speeds up. Even then, at 500 knots and a 5-second gap, several hundred mobile phones trying to make contact with a mobile phone tower is a pretty traumatic event for the mobile tower.

Another amazing fact is that phone signals can only escape from an aeroplane via its windows. The aeroplane is encapsulated via a law attributed to Michael Faraday known as Faraday’s Cage:

Faradays_Cage

A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure formed by conductive material or by a mesh of such material. Such an enclosure blocks external static and non-static electric fields by channeling electricity along and around, but not through, the mesh, providing constant voltage on all sides of the enclosure. Since the difference in voltage is the measure of electrical potential, no current flows through the space. Faraday cages are named after the English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.

Scientific reasons are not the only explanation why mobile phones are not allowed on planes. A social explanation is that passengers expect quietness on the plane. Just imagine if everyone was allowed to use their mobile phones in a confined aeroplane. It would be a disaster.

Furthermore, an economic reason is that aeroplanes have always provided telephone services at a cost. Why lose this stream of revenue?

So, the moral of the story is that your mobile phone, if it ever rings on the plane, will not bring the plane down. But having the mobile phone off during flights gives passengers a peace of mind during their “confinement” in the plane.

And that is priceless!

 

Important Social Skills

Have you taken the public transport lately?

smartphone-people

What have you observed? People staring at their mobile phones.

We seem to have lost the art of socializing these days. Gone were the days when people mingled with those around them face to face and not through a small screen.

So here’s a refresher course on some basic social skills:

  1. Smile – this is an instant ice breaker (when someone doesn’t smile at you, it doesn’t mean their mean or grumpy. People will low self-confidence never make the first attempt to smile.)
  2. Be humble.
  3. Shake hands with confidence. This step is important to counter balance step number 2 because power players may think of your humbleness as a sign of weakness.
  4. Ask questions. A wise, fat man once said that everyone is only interested in themselves. Thus the one that asks questions is the one who controls the conversations.
  5. Never interrupt the speaker. I have seen people who can’t wait for the speaker to finish speaking before they can say something. This puts you in a very bad light. Always take a second or two after the speaker has finished speaking to provide your reply. This shows that you’re thinking about your reply before replying.
  6. Empathize with the person you’re speaking with. Understand what’s important to them.
  7. Maintain eye contact. Don’t look over them, around them or at their chest. Look at them. People tend to note your eyes to see if you’re interested in what they’re saying.
  8. Maintain interest.

A long time, Dale Carnegie wrote an excellent but simple book, “How to win Friends and Influence People“. The book became a best seller and was translated into many languages. It’s still one of the best and simplest book you’ll ever find on this subject. This book was originally published in 1937 but it’s still one of the best sellers on Amazon. It was recently updated in 1998.

Financial success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.”

But most importantly, people like to be valued. No one likes to be attacked, especially in public. And it’s always easier to convince someone of your ideas by speaking to them gently than either berating them or humiliating them.

Smelly Shoe? Use a Tea Bag

putting-teabag-into-shoe

A simple remedy to removing strong (smelly) odors from your shoes. Leave a tea bag or two in your shoes for two or three nights. It is guaranteed to give your shoes a nice smell (especially if green tea is used).

The best solutions are natural!

How Does Your Brain (Mental Ability) Compare With Your Peers?

Have you ever wondered how quick your brain functions compared to your colleagues?

Have you ever wondered which mental skills you excel in most?

Then maybe you should give Lumosity a go.

Lumosity is a brain training tool involving games. It’s based on extensive research in the field of neuroplasticity. There are many published results on the benefits on Lumosity.

 

lumosity-session

 

You’re given a set of games each day which focuses on specific brain functions like memory, speed, attention and so forth. A sample of games are shown below:

This is one of my favourite games, guiding multiple trains into stations.

lumo-train

The game on the left tests your speed while the one on the right tests your memory (this is a hard one).

lumosity-games

 

The observation tower building is an interesting memory game where you have to remember a sequence of numbers.

lumo-games2

This is my hardest game. I am very bad in remembering names but I am improving:

Familiar Faces

 

After each session of 5 games, you’re shown your brain performance chart, indicating your scores for 5 aspects of your brain.

lumo-lpi

Lumosity also compares your performance with those in your age bracket:

lumo-brain-compare

 

Lastly Lumosity has data showing the skills different industries require of their people.

lumo-media lumo-millitary lumo-finance lumo-management

Constantly training your brain helps delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dont you think that’s worth playing a few games daily?

Left Ear or Right?

The next time you’re in a party where the music is loud and you cant hear the conversation you’re participating in, lean forward with your right ear. Studies conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles found that our ears are crossed with the two halves of our brains.

It’s a well known fact that the left brain processes speech and logic while the right brain is more musical and emotional.

 

Left-ear-right-ear

Well, the right ear is connected to the left brain and therefore processes speech much better than the left ear which is more attuned to harmony (music).

So remember,

words == right ear

music == left ear

 

Why Do People Volunteer?

According to a survey done, around 40% of volunteers volunteer their time and effort because a friend or co-worker introduced them to the opportunity. 25%  of volunteers were influenced by family members.

35% of volunteers made a decision to HELP another, unknown person all on their own.

This is what makes us HUMAN.

When was the last time you took some time out from your own life and helped another person without expecting anything in return? When was the last time you gave back to humanity?

 

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

 

Bridge – An Actual Social Network

 

Finally, a real social network. And what do I mean by real?

Bridge is an app which lets you meet your Facebook (at the moment it only links to Facebook. Google+ users will have to wait) friends for real life activities. When you log in and depending on your preferences (mine was photography, chess and computer programming), you’ll see bridges (or connections who sahre the same interest) close to you (you’ll need to actvate your GPS for the app to work).

bridge-social-network-2

 

So lets say I saw a friend doing some yoga. I click on the yoga bridge and I get more details. I can then RSVP, so that my friend knows that more people are coming or I could send a message to ask for more information.

The map view below shows all bridges close to your location of your friends who share similar interests.

 

bridge-social-network-1

You can then click on the activity that you’re interested in and see who’s coming and even check on people’s profiles, just in case you’re worried on who’s attending. You dont want to be in the same place with your ex-, I understand!

bridge-social-network-3

At least now you get to meet real people, in a real environment!

Finally, an actual social network!