Traveling To Germany Is A Great Idea

I know that most people coming to this blog are looking for tech information and articles.  But I just thought that I would share my recent experience with traveling to Germany recently.  Germany is an amazing place full of leiderhosen, great beer, amazing scenery, and friendly people.  I have a lot of family ties to Germany, as it is half my nationality and cultural heritage.  So, going to Germany was a great idea for me.

When To Go

The best time to travel to Germany is either late spring or early fall.  This is because Germany gets the bulk of their rainfall in midsummer.  Yes, the temperatures are balmy, however the weather can be unpredictable.  You don’t want to travel all the way there only to be rained out for half of your trip!  Personally I would shoot for the “goldener Oktober”, which is German for “Golden October” and is my favorite time of the year in this magical place.  This is harvest season, and has some of my favorite weather.  If you’re a ski or snowboard buff, however, the Winter is a great time to hit the Alps.

Where To Go

Deciding where in Germany to go is a very difficult prospect indeed as there are simply so many cool places to visit.  I think the best strategy is to figure out what you want out of your trip.  Do you want to get the most of the modern culture?  Do you want to go on a history tour?  Do you want to see more urban areas or more countryside?  Determining what YOU want to see first will help you narrow down your choices.  Of course there are some staples that most people try to check off their list.  Berlin is one of the most popular tourist cities, with it’s modern flair and yet evidence of it’s tumultuous past in world history.  If cathedral cities are more your jam, the smaller cities of Bamberg and Regensberg might suit you.  The famous Black Forest would be a great destination for people looking to get some more natural beauty.  Check out Fodors Germany site for more ideas.

My Favorite Places

In Germany some of my most favorite places are more natural than urban.  I mentioned the Black Forest earlier, and it’s one of my most favorite destinations in the country.  Named after Black Forest Ham (just kidding – wanted to make sure you’re paying attention ;).  No, it was called the Black Forest because of its dark and very dense pine trees, making for a rather dark and shady woods.  It is along the border, and was known for its border town history as well as for iconic culture and craftsmanship.  The area is well known for the handmade cuckoo clocks that have been produced there for centuries.

Another one of my favorite things in Germany are the castles.  My favorite is the Burg Eltz castle, which was built in the 12th century and still boasts some of its original furnishings.  It’s a piece of history that is both beautiful and mysterious.  I can’t help but think of all the people that went before me on the stones.

Preparing For Your Trip

Learning a bit of German is a great idea before your trip.  I used Rocket German to learn some basic German and some useful phrases for travel.  Depending on what time of year you go, you will need to pack the appropriate garments.  A few travel guides are good, as well as an international phone data plan so that you can use GPS and maps so you don’t get lost.  Honestly prepare for this trip like you would any other trip.

Protecting your Business from Potential Data Breach

businesssecurityAs a business owner, there is a general feeling that you could be doing a better job to safeguard your data against potential security breaches. Online threat has never been as bad, and everyone is getting it.

In 2013, hackers got into Target’s system and made away with 40 million credit card numbers and pin numbers from encrypted customer security debit cards. It had become so common that it prompted ZDNet to come up with a list of that year’s data breaches, and these weren’t small-time – not at all. The victims included big names, nay – the biggest names – in government, media and technology: the U.S. Federal Reserve was on the list, the Wall Street Journal was on the list, the New York Times wasn’t spared either, and neither were big boys Apple, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Adobe.

That was just the start. Even the White House and security companies themselves aren’t being spared either. These are not what you would call small companies, like yours and mine. These are the largest and most well-known government organizations and companies in the world. So, what in the world would make you safer than corporations with financial firepower and expertise at their disposal?

You guessed it – we are more vulnerable. And for good reason.

Open Sesame

To begin with, most small and medium-sized businesses today are accepting credit card and social security numbers than ever before. We are now accepting online and mobile payments in a bid to offer more options which translate to more sales; sales that wouldn’t have been possible before. The number of checks we are sending out and receiving has reduced drastically as we move operations virtual.

And yes, we oversee storage of this very sensitive information which we are storing on-premise or on hosted servers that just need a password to gain access to. In short, our security is terrible. And the cloud ecommerce services we rely on (as demonstrated by our choice of payment methods) aren’t much either.

Blame Game

Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if your customers’ info was stolen? Here’s what…

Those customers will desist from doing business with us. Some may share with others or let the world know by sharing their problems with the media. Others, well others might just decide to see us in court! Our reputations would be on the line; our credibility challenged. We would be embarrassed and customers may find it hard to trust us again. Throw in the potential ginormous liabilities and it makes for a nauseating prospect.

No one would definitely like to find themselves in such a position. Whom would you blame? Just you.

To Each His Own

So, what do you do to safeguard you and your business against this? Fortunately, there are affordable ways such as the following:

  • Every now and then, make sure to run background checks on each and every one of your staff handling customer data.
  • Ensure your customer data is housed in an encrypted database.
  • Have your databases that store customer information secured by multi-level passwords – and change these passwords on a frequent basis.
  • Ensure your disaster recovery plan has a provision for you know – when it hits the fan (and you do have a disaster recovery plan, right?)
  • Update your T&Cs to absolve you of any blame should a data breach occur and you find yourself in a stolen data incident. This can’t stop anyone from slapping you with a lawsuit, which you could lose or suffer reputation and credibility issues at the very least.
  • Review and enforce standard network security health check controls.
  • Employ a decent spyware removal tool such as Spyhunter or Malwarebytes.  Spyware is known to aid in potential data theft.

By the way, small business like you and I have been identified as thriving entry points for hackers, particularly if you happen to do business with big companies. That’s how Target and Home Depot got compromised. In case they get you, at least you tried.

The King, the Queen, and the Emperor: The Future of Media Formats

 

Once upon a time, there were video cassettes. Then came DVDs, with their smaller format, their higher picture quality, and their improved data storage capacity. They didn’t even have to be rewound after the movie! And so the phrase, “Be kind— rewind” passed out of popular usage. Next, the Blu-ray arrived on the scene, and after a short battle with rival technologies, it became the top dog in the market. But what’s next? What comes after Blu-ray discs?

The King of Discs

discIt could be Ultra HD Blu-ray, also called 4K Blu-ray. In September of 2014, the Blu-ray Disc Association announced the impending arrival of the 4K Blu-ray disc format, which could handle 3840×2160 resolution at 60 frames per second. With an enhanced color depth of 10-bit per color, the 4K Blu-rays would also employ Rec. 2020 color space, broadening the potential color range. The Ultra HD Blu-ray logo was unveiled on May 12, 2015, with the first discs and players expected to appear on the market in December of 2015.

With the increasing popularity of 4K technology, Ultra HD Blu-ray may truly be the next big thing in the visual media market. That is, unless something bigger and better comes along.

The Queen of Archives

At first, some people thought that the new Archival Disc format would be that bigger, better technology, the format that would trump Blu-ray. After all, these discs can hold vast quantities of data, up to a terabyte. However, when Sony and Panasonic announced the 4K Archival Discs, they backed away from the possibility of home entertainment use. Instead, their plan is to reserve these discs and their incredible storage space for professional archiving purposes.

After all, the Blu-ray format and its 4K successor already have a rival— a massive one. It’s called the internet.

The Emperor of Media

It’s true that video streaming still has a few issues. The quality isn’t always what viewers prefer, and the level of clarity depends heavily on factors like internet speed, available bandwidth, hardware, and traffic volume. However, judging by the steadily growing number of viewers who stream their video content, those drawbacks are minor or temporary.

Looking Ahead

Is the 4K Blu-ray the last physical format for media? Perhaps the next big thing is not another disc. Perhaps the future lies in the improvement of data streaming, in faster internet, and in more powerful hardware. Maybe we’ll be enjoying 4K definition or higher on our supercomputers in a couple of decades. It’s not so far-fetched, really. After all, the first videotape demo happened in 1951, not even a century ago. And look at how far we’ve come.