Saturday, March 9, 2013

Traveling While Censored - Use A VPN Solution For Privacy and Security

What do you need to know about securing your data while overseas?

According to the OpenNet Initiative, an acedemic partnership that includes Harvard University, "Internet censorship and surveillance are growing global phenomena."  It is a fact of life that in addition to hackers, many governments monitor data usage, particularly that of foreigners, for a variety of reasons.  While protecting one's data is always of great importance, when entering a restricted or potentially compromised network it becomes even more crucial.

Use of a VPN tunnel can provide some measure of protection against snooping or accidental access to prohibited materials.  The tunnel accomplishes what it sounds like - it creates a virtual tunnel from the user's device to an endpoint on a safe network, encrypting all of the traffic within.  If everything works properly, a snooper will be able to see that there is a connection from the user to the VPN endpoint, but will not be able to decypher the data that is passed between the two points.

It should be noted that while decrypting commercial-grade encryption on the fly is currently a capability exclusive to a handful of governments, there are a multitude of ways to access your data beyond snooping an access network.  Therefore, be mindful that a VPN solution provides only a piece of your overall security puzzle.

AnchorFree Hotspot Shield VPN is the solution that I recommend because it goes a step beyond.  In addition to securing the data channel, Hotspot detects and blocks malware, protects privacy by masking IP addresses and allows access to content that might otherwise be blocked due to geographic limits imposed at the content provider.

Hotspot received an "Outstanding" rating when reviewed by CNET and customers are reacting very positively to the latest set of updates.

While there is a 'free' version that is supported by advertising pop-ups, this strikes me as remarkably penny-wise and pound foolish.  Get the free 7-day trial of Hotspot Shield Elite and don't take any chances.  Hotspot shield is available for PC, Mac, Android and iPhone.



Monday, March 4, 2013

10 Things To Do To Get Me Involved In Your 'Ask'

Need something?  Happy to help, but can we lay down some ground rules first?


Working with startups, I have the happy pleasure of helping a lot of different people to connect for a variety of purposes.  Probably 99% of the time I lack a direct benefit, but it is an absolute joy to help connect people and more good comes back to me as a result than I ever could put out.

I've had a few sub-ideal experiences over the past year which led to the creation of this list.  People sometimes come seeking a hook-up and yet are not thoughtful of the ecosystem.  This has the net effect of recasting me from being a mensch (bringing good things to people) to being a schlemiel (bringing bad things to people).

I discussed this phenomenon recently with a friend who is sort of a matchmaker in the financial world, and a master of 'The Ask'.

That conversation led to this list, 10 Things To Do To Get Me Involved In Your 'Ask'.

I hope that this is received as thoughtful and constructive.  Please leave some feedback, and as always I hope I can help.

You can most easily find me on Twitter @CaseyFahey.



10 Things To Do To Get Me Involved in Your 'Ask'

  1. Be humble (or at least try to be).  I often fail at this, but it blatantly obvious if the person that I bring doesn't make such an effort.

     
  2. Demonstrate integrity.  Most smart people can read through BS pretty quickly.  It doesn't make much sense to BS someone if you are asking them for something, more than likely the BS will wear off before 'the ask' becomes effective.  For my part, I have everything to lose and nothing to gain by becoming involved with anything or anyone who does not maintain a high ethical standard.

     
  3. Under-promise and over-deliver.  In my mind, this is a function of #2 above.  Few things suck more than to learn someone you introduced has blown a deadline, failed to deliver or otherwise disrupted the force.  Please don't put me in that position - set deadlines that you know you can meet and then beat the deadline with a flawless high-end deliverable.  Make us both look good.

     
  4. Be prepared. I recently had someone come to me with a request to broadcast out their information to my contacts.  Evidently the thinking was that there was no real need to put the effort into a presentation because of an assumed success rate of x% if I simply spam hundreds of people.  Not only would this be an ineffective approach, it would undermine the goodwill that I have built over many years.  Fail.

     
  5. Be realistic.  I recently had a great conversation with a very nice guy on Twitter.  The punchline was that he then asked me to retweet out some stuff for him.  I was eager to help and said "No problem," unfortunately the tweets consisted of really spammy, get-rich-quick and fear mongering content.  For the record, it does not matter how good our rapport is, I'm not going to start advocating things that suck, so please don't put me in a position where I have to tell you "No."

     
  6. Be even more realistic if you are raising money I recently had someone come to me who just wanted warm introductions to qualified investors, but had little interest in putting together an effective presentation.  I asked the person if they were concerned about acquiring a reputation for being unprepared (and implied this reputation would extend to me), they replied that they were relying on my "juice" to get them through.  Oy!  If you want me to introduce you to 'money people' step one is to pitch me first, at a very high level, flawlessly.  If that is not in the cards in the immediate term, maybe there is some way we can work together and I can help you get to that point.

     
  7. Be efficient.  My time is really the only thing I have to sell, at the moment anyway (cough!  #stealthModeStartup).  Please don't waste my time and for the love of all that is holy please don't get me associated with wasting other people's time. Especially not in New York, they will shoot you for that here.

     
  8. Be impressive. A big part of a successful 'ask' is that you are bringing something as valuable as the consideration you are asking for.  Thus, if I am bringing a prospective employee to a prospective employer for instance, I want the latter to be genuinely grateful that I did so.  I seek a reputation for bringing impressive people together, not as a syndication service for things that suck.  I want people to look forward to me reaching out to them, not dreading that I am now bringing into their life more crap.

     
  9. Engage.  I am not running an anonymous referral service in the sky!  If you need something, let's talk about it, refine the idea and then start engaging with people that can help.  If you just want to simply chuck your deal over the fence at me so I can go solve your problems, the answer has to be "No, sorry, can't help."

     
  10. Give back 'Nuff said.  ; )



  11. What do you think?  Am I missing anything?  Please leave a comment below!  
    It is always a thrill when someone feeds back or or reaches out on Twitter @CaseyFahey.





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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dell A Done Deal? Maybe Not, Second Largest Shareholder Drops Bombshell 13D Filing

On Friday February 9th, 2013 the second largest shareholder of Dell Inc. (DELL), Southeastern Asset Management, threw a red flag on the deal announced on February 5th for Dell to go private with support from private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and software maker Microsoft (MSFT).

The filing can be viewed here.

The 13D filing consists of a number of elements, notably a letter sent on February 8th from Southeastern to the Dell Inc. Board of Directors, an outline of alternatives to the proposed deal and a threat that Southeastern will avail itself of all options "including but not limited to a proxy fight, litigation claims and any available Delaware statutory appraisal rights."

The 13D filing potentially provides an obstacle to completing the transaction, not necessarily scuttling the deal, but clearly putting pressure to increase the current offer of $13.65 per share. It is unclear whether Southeastern will be able to find similarly minded shareholders to buttress the 8.5% of shareholder votes it claims to control.

Southeastern's CEO, Mason Hawkins claims that Dell's proposed sale price is "woefully inadequate," insisting that the company is worth at least $24 per share. Southeastern supports this rationale by listing a series of assets held by Dell Inc., such as Dell Financial Services ($1.72 per share) cash-on-hand ($3.64 per share) and aggregated acquisitions since Michael Dell resumed his role as CEO in 2007 ($7.58 per share), suggesting a fair value for these assets alone of $12.94 per share.

Southeastern suggests as alternatives to the Silver Lake deal, including a so-called 'Dutch-auction', that Dell instead realize stated book value for Dell Financial Services, that Dell bring home offshore cash or that Dell undertake new borrowings of $9.0 billion.

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