Tech Talk: Catching the Catfish

     Finding your true love, your next partner, a new friend or connection might not be something that you would relate to tech; however, our online social lives grow each year. With the increased use of the online network, there has been a rise of catfish scammers and other online dangers. Not the bottom feeder fish in a pond, but the people who create fake profiles online and interact with others with this fake identity.

     It used to be a big issue contained in the rise of online chat rooms and then dating apps, like Tinder. However, now it isn’t limited to just online dating apps. People with fake identities or lives online have spread into other networks like Facebook, Instagram, and any other online platform.

     Most of the time, these people use stolen pictures they found online or from other people and information that makes them more appealing, hoping to try and deceive whoever they’re trying to talk to.

     It used to be just people who used it as a way to escape from their own loneliness or inability for them to form a relationship with someone. A considerable amount of important information about us is now stored online: pictures, banking, where we are and much more. Groups of people have started to take advantage of social platforms to try and scam users.

     You can avoid falling for a catfish by taking precautionary measures to confirm their profile is truly theirs. The easiest thing to do is google search a photo they’ve sent. Google has the capability to find the origin of a picture if it’s been used online.

     Download the picture and paste it or upload it to Google, it can show you if that picture is being used by someone else or if it’s a stock photo.

     You can always ask difficult questions that can’t just be searched online, like details of the area you’re in since most of the time catfish aren’t from around your area.

     It’s also important to pay attention to details. If they’re a scammer, most of the time, they’re pushy and try to be manipulative or try to move the relationship quickly by putting pressure on you. It is important to note, if they have bad grammar, or they type like one of Shakespeare’s plays, then you most likely have a foreign scammer.

     You can always ask them to take a picture of them doing something specific like balancing a peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich on their nose as proof they are who they say they are, because no one just makes a peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich on the regular.

     Keeping in mind your online safety is important and being aware of things like scammers or catfish can only help in reducing the risk of falling for something like that. In an era where part of our lives are tied online, learning about online dangers as they evolve and change can only be beneficial.


A little privacy please: Encrypting your online connection

     As a student, making sure you’re safe offline and online is important. From making sure your valuables are secure and that you don’t get your identity or money stolen, being conscious about your security is something to keep in mind. However, the security of your online information is often overlooked. It is easy for someone to steal your personal data, passwords, banking data and more private information that is transmitted each time you go online.

     Everything we do online is recorded in one way or another. From the moment we connect to the internet, everything we do online is tracked and stored by the companies that provide our internet. The fact that this is stored by internet providers is an issue.

     However, with Net Neutrality laws removed, this allows those same internet providers to sell your information to companies like Google and Facebook without you having a say in the matter.

     With growing concerns of who has access to whose information, a number of organizations have established a way to provide a measure of security online for the average person.

     Virtual Private Networks or VPN’s have been on the rise, run by for-profit organizations that believe that people should have a choice about who can see their data. A VPN’s purpose is to encrypt your information.

     It creates a tunnel between you and a location where a VPN server stops your information from being seen by others while also making it harder for someone to trace information back to you. This is useful for protecting your information when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network­—because unsecured networks are the easiest way for thieves to see, steal and record your information.

     Another use of VPN is to gain access to websites that have been blocked by the government. Even though this is not a big issue here in the U.S., it is something that is important for many other countries.

     Even though VPN’s do increase your security online, it still has its limitations and downsides. It is important to note that if someone truly wanted to track you and had the technical know-how, they could find ways to get around a VPN.

     Even though VPN’s are there to keep your information away from prying eyes, VPN companies still fall under the laws of the country they are based out of, and some will be forced to hand over information in response to warrants from law enforcement.

     It is also important to consider that devices like a Chromecast, Roku or smart home devices will not work with a VPN. There are workarounds, but it involves a more complicated process like encrypted routers.

     Many streaming services, like Netflix, don’t work well with VPN’s because companies like Netflix don’t want you to get around restrictions they placed that change from country to country. However, some VPN services work to make sure that people can stream with their service.

     Finally, many VPN services are businesses, so they will have monthly fees, for the more popular VPN’s like ExpressVPN or NordVPN they will range from $12 to $13 a month, or cheaper if you get a yearly subscription. In a time where the difference between the offline and online world is beginning to blur, the protection of your online data is something everyone should keep in mind even if it costs a little extra.


Sports Spotlight: Head Athletics Trainer Donna Sledge

     Having worked with ABAC for 15 years, Donna Sledge has always had the well-being of ABAC’s student-athletes on her mind. She started working with ABAC in 2003 as an adjunct professor and in 2010 she was hired as ABAC’s first full-time athletic trainer.

     With experience as a Licensed Athletic Trainer for over 25 years, she is also a National Board Certified Trainer and a Georgia Medical Board Licensed Certified Athletic Trainer. With this knowledge, she has the qualifications to make sure ABAC’s athletes are healthy.

     She didn’t start off studying to be an athletic trainer, but as a political science major at Valdosta State University.

     Before working with ABAC, Donna worked with many professional teams and events as a trainer. While working in Memphis, TN providing medical care for local colleges and high schools, she was recruited to become a founding member of Baptist Sports Medicine in Nashville, TN under NATA Hall of fame member­—First President of Georgia Athletic Trainers Association and currently Athletic Trainer for Florida State University—Nick Pappas.

     While working in Tennesse, Donna worked with a variety of professional sports teams like the Tennesse Titans, Nashville Sounds Minor League Baseball, Nashville Knights and Nashville Predators hockey teams. She also covered professional events like the National Longhorn Rodeo Association, Olympic Water Polo, National Gymnastics and National Ice Skating, to name a few.

     When she returned to Georgia and began working with ABAC, Donna said she loved it. “Working in Tifton placed me near my family. Working at ABAC was coming home. Working at ABAC has allowed me to give back to the community and region I love.”

     Here at ABAC, Donna continues doing what she loves: working with talented athletes to reach their goals by making sure they stay healthy.

      “I care about how they feel, where they have pain and I understand their desire to play quickly and safely.” Donna said, “Athletes trust I will help them heal when they are injured, helping them recover and getting them back to their sport at the same level or better.”

     Donna plans to keep working with Director Alan Kramer, Shirley Wilson and the coaching staff in the Athletic Department to help ABAC’s athletes succeed, not only on the field but also off the field.


ABAC Bee Keepers Association is buzzing

     After being on campus for three years, the Bee Keepers Association is buzzing with activity. Since he started beekeeping in 2013, Cade Houston’s avid interest in beekeeping grew.

     This led to the creation of the Bee Keeper’s Association. According to Cade, “I founded the club in the fall of 2016 because I felt that we needed a club like this on campus, being a beekeeper myself.”

     The goal of the Bee Keeper’s Association is to inform and teach students and faculty at ABAC about the importance of honey bees to Georgia’s agriculture. The club also works to teach and bring awareness to the community in Tifton.

     They teach skills on the management of beekeeping and basic principle in beekeeping. Currently, the club also has a hive that they’ve been taking care of for about a year and a half.

     President of the club, Cade Houston, is also the main supervisor of the hive and the most involved with the club’s workshops.

     Members get to participate in these workshops in which they wear bee suits to see what the inside of a hive looks like and how to take care of a hive.

     A single hive is on campus and under the care of the club, but the club has helped the Georgia Museum of Agriculture (GMA) take care of their observation hives.

     As well as helping the GMA, the Bee Keeper’s Association participates in other club activities on campus: taking part in Homecoming, Ms. ABAC and AG Awareness Day. The club has grown since it was founded and now has about 20 active members.

     The officers for the club are Cade Houston as president, Louis Canevari vice president, Chasity Denmark secretary, Savannah Eastall as the Inter-Club Council  Representative, and Jackson Tilton treasurer.

     Alongside members who love beekeeping, the Beekeeping Association hopes to keep growing as it becomes more established as an agricultural club in ABAC.


Tech Talk: weird wired technology

     In college, you have your standard devices: a phone, a laptop, headphones and maybe a smartwatch. However, in the tech space, someone is always trying to create the next cool thing that will take your money. This leads to random but interesting products like smart forks and wine bottles. Things that you might want but then ask yourself “But why though?”

     As college students, we spend a lot of time studying alone. Imagine having a small robotic partner that just rolls around your desk playing with his small cube until you need him. That is when you get the Vector Robot by Anki­- a small palm-sized robot that goes around discovering his surroundings like a plastic puppy with wheels.

     However, Vector isn’t just there to help you procrastinate, it’s also there to help answer questions, take pictures, check the weather and most importantly, dance if there’s music playing. You can also activate Amazon’s Alexa on Vector if you use it. Vector is $250, but a cute robot pet that is pretty helpful, couldn’t be a better waste of money.

     Now you have a little robot friend, but have you thought about having a robotic cuddle pillow? Well for the low price of $550, you can have one. The Somnox™ Sleep Robot is a foot-long peanut shaped pillow that you cuddle to your chest. According to Somnox, it helps you sleep better by regulating your breathing, using “calming sounds”, and most importantly, all the robotic affection you want.

     The pillow simulates breathing, which is supposed to help you relax and makes it easier to sleep. It can also play calming sounds that turn off after you’ve fallen asleep.

     This device isn’t available yet, it releases sometime in March or April according to the website, but you can pre-order it.

     After those overly expensive devices, the last one on this list is a humble $18.99 on Amazon. The SoundBot SB210 Wireless Smart Beanie Headset is the perfect device for those who love wearing beanies and giant headphones. Now you can listen to your music discreetly and look fashionable while doing it or, at the very least, keep your ears warm while you listen. The beanies come in a bunch of different colors and they are washable after taking the headphones out. So, if you were thinking of buying a new beanie and a new pair of headphones any time soon, then this might be a good choice for you.