Midland Community Unit School District #7

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I was born in LaGrange, IL and moved with my family to Flanagan, IL when I was about 2 years old. I attended Flanagan Schools all of my life and graduated in 2010 from Flanagan-Cornell High School. I then went to Heartland Community College in Normal, IL where I studied Computer Networking and graduated with certificates in Windows, Linux, and Cisco. I am currently attending Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby studying HVAC and Electrical.
Both during and after graduation from Heartland, I held several jobs in the technology industry in the Bloomington-Normal area including Bloomington Public School District 87, Heartland Community College, State Farm Insurance, Integrity Technology Solutions, and Advance Trading Inc.
I joined the Midland 7 family in December of 2015. I currently live in Minonk. I have a few favorite restaurants including Buffalo Wild Wings, Dukes Drive In in Bridgeview, and Fat Alberts in Gridley. My favorite TV show is Friends. If I wasn't working in the Technology industry I would like to either own and operate my own Landscaping business or work in a zoo!

Recent Posts

Keeping your Data Safe

Think about everything that you have saved on your computer right now. Documents, pictures, financial information, videos, work documents, etc. Now imagine what would happen if you were to lose it all. Its not very fun to imagine is it? The reality is that that is a real possibility if you aren’t taking the proper steps to keep your files backed up.

There’s more than one way to lose everything on a computer. The most common way is hardware failure. The most common component in a computer to fail is the hard drive, which just happens to be the component that has all of your files stored on it. Traditional hard drives are similar to record players. They have a spinning disc inside of them with an actuator arm that moves across the disc to read or write information to it. Because of the moving parts inside, the drive will eventually fail. Every drive in the world will eventually fail. The only way to protect yourself from this is to keep your data backed up.

You could also lose everything on your computer due to a virus. “Ransomware” viruses have been around for a few years now and are starting to become more and more widespread. These are one of the worst kinds of viruses because they will “encrypt” all of the files on your computer and demand that you pay a certain amount of money to get your files back. However, even if you do pony up the cash in the hopes of getting your files back, there is no guarantee the decryption process will actually work.  Again, the only sure fire way of recovering your information is to restore if from the latest backup.

What are some ways you can keep your information safe and backed up? The first way I would recommend would be to use a cloud storage system such as Google Drive,  Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Box.net. These services will sync any files saved inside of them to the “cloud” (servers hosted by the company providing the service to you.) This way, if your hard drive dies, or even if your computer goes through a house fire or gets stolen, you still have access to all your files in the cloud. However, these solutions are not going to help you in the event of a Ransomware virus attack. If you do get a ransomeware virus, it will encrypt all of the files in your cloud storage account and then those changes will be synced to the cloud service. Rendering all of the files in your cloud storage account useless.

Another smart idea is to keep a backup copy of your files on an external hard drive. An external hard drive is a device that connects to your computer (usually with a USB connection) and allows you to copy files to it. They range in size both physically and in terms of data capacity. The benefit of an external hard drive is that you do not have to leave it connected to your computer at all times. You can connect it, perform your backup, and then disconnect it. This helps immensely in the situation of the ransomware virus attack. If the drive is not connected to your computer, there is no way for the virus to destroy the files saved on it. Inversely, however, if you do have the drive connected during a ransomeware attack, the virus will also encrypt all of your backups rendering them useless as well.

The key to any good backup is reliability. The most important files should be backed up 2 to 3 times for reliability reasons. If one backup method fails you, you can always fall back on another. For example: Save all of your files to Google Drive or Dropbox. This gets you the benefits of having your files synced to the cloud. Once a week, make a backup copy of your Google Drive or Dropbox to an external hard drive, and then disconnect the external drive from your computer. This will add the benefit of being useful in the event of a ransomware virus.

As you can see, there is no perfect solution to protecting your data. However, you can reliably protect your data from risk by following these simple guidelines.

Holiday Shopping and Online Security

As the holiday season approaches, you are most likely thinking about things such as travel schedules, gift lists, dessert recipes, and stocking stuffers. One things most people don't think about very much this time of year is online security. Unfortunately, this time of year is the busiest time for online data and identity thieves. As online shopping becomes more and more popular every year (we're looking at you Amazon Prime...) more and more people are skipping the black Friday craziness and focusing instead on their electronic device of choice. Here are a few pointers to keep yourself secure this holiday season:
1. Change your passwords. Yea I know....everyone says this. But seriously, its the only way to keep yourself secure in the event of a data breach at an online retailer. Once a thief gets your login credentials to a site that has your credit card info saved, there is nothing standing between them and a holly jolly Christmas with you footing the bill.
2. Be wary of where you shop online. Make sure their page is secured (https not http). If you aren't sure, research the site on Google first to see if there are any complaints of fraud or identity theft online.
3. Keep your computer clean. Clean from viruses and malware that is. If your computer is infected with malware and you use it to order online you could be sending your personal information straight to an identity thief. Make sure you have adequate antivirus software installed on your computer and that it is up to date. If you think you may have a virus, hire a qualified computer professional to check and remove any infections you may have.
4. Check your bank account or credit card statement regularly. Online banking makes this extremely easy to do. You can usually set up alerts to tell you when purchases are made. If you don't recognize a charge, contact your financial institution immediately.
5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While it is always a smart idea to shop around to find the best price, be wary of any site that has an offer on a product that seems too good to be true. This is especially common on sites selling electronics such as cell phones and laptops. Usually these "deals" will present themselves to you in the form of emails or ads on otherwise legitimate webpages.
6. Get the coffee, hold the WiFi. Be careful of using public WiFi hotspots such as those at Starbucks or McDonald's. Instead, shop online using your phone's 4G LTE connection or your home internet connection. (But please make sure your home WiFi is secured with a password and not left open for anyone to connect to.)
7. Be careful with physical security too. This time of year is also the busiest time for pickpockets and other forms of physical robbery. Always check to be sure your wallet is still in your pocket or in your purse and never leave any items unattended.

In the beginning.....

I'm not quite sure what prompted me to start this blog. Part of me wants to use it to test out this feature of our Edlio website. Another part of me wants to actually use it as a blog. I guess I will just see where it goes from here. Enjoy!