Christmas is coming – at least judging by the mountains of mince pies in the shops.
That means lots of people will be doing Christmas shopping. And nowadays, you don’t have to fight through the crowds in the town centre – at least not for all your shopping.
If you like, you can do a lot of your shopping at home, on the internet, on your PC or tablet.
It’s handy, and I do a lot of my shopping that way – though there are some things I prefer to choose in the shop.
But there are a few things worth making sure of before you do your shopping, just to make sure your safe online. The last thing you want is to find out that instead of getting the presents you’d ordered, you have a nasty surprise and something’s infected your PC… or nabbed your card details.
So here’s my list of what to do to keep safe:
First of all, make sure you have a security (anti-virus etc) program on your PC. If you don’t it’ll probably be nagging you about it anyway, but if you’re not sure if you have one, check in control panel in the start menu that it doesn’t have big red warnings about it!
Secondly, I tend to use a credit card rather than a debit card to shop online. They used to give you more protection if something did go wrong online. Nowadays, to be honest, most debit cards give similar protection. But if you’re not sure whether yours does or not, then it’s worth being safe and using a credit card.
Next, you should make sure the website you’re buying from is secure. Now, a lot of people misunderstand this. The only part of the website that needs to be secure is the bit where you actually pay. For example, on our website, most of the website is “normal” – it’s only if you click to actually pay for something that you’re taken to the secure bit. So don’t worry if you’re choosing things to order and it isn’t marked as secure, as long as it is before you put in any card details.
How to check: well, in the address bar normally at the top of the screen, where it says www.helpfulbooks.co.uk or whatever, when it’s secure it should have a little symbol of a padlock and say https:// (s for secure) instead of just http://
But as I say, it only matters when you’re actually paying.
The last and possibly most important tip is simply to use a bit of common sense. Tesco, Amazon or Argos aren’t going to steal your card details and use them to book a holiday to the Bahamas. If you know a company and know they’re genuine, you should be fine. And similarly if a shop uses a company like Paypal or Barclaycard to take the payments (like we do), they never actually get your card details – they just get told the payment has happened.
Anyway, take the sensible precautions and you should avoid any nasty surprises amongst the good ones!
Phones – an apology, a thank you and a sigh of relief
If you tried to ring us earlier this week you may have found the lines weren’t as clear as normal – and you may have found we didn’t answer the phone as quickly as normal, either! So, first of all, an apology.
What happened was we’re in the process of switching our phones over to a new supplier that gives us a few new features on the phones that make it easier to do a good job. Nothing major, but it should be a bit easier. And Laura and I had both checked (umpteen times in Laura’s case) that there’d be no “gap” between the old service and the new. We were promised faithfully it would switch over perfectly.
So it was a bit of a shock when Laura discovered on Wednesday morning last week that the phone lines were all turned off… and because the new company weren’t ready yet and the old company had already turned them off, it would take around 10 days to get them back on. You can imagine we were, well, let’s just say “quite cross”. Oh, and to add to the fun it also meant we had no internet, so couldn’t answer emails…
Luckily for my blood pressure, Laura had already got all the phones lines “directed” to her mobile phone, Louize’s mobile and so on before I even got in to work in the morning. So at least we could still answer your calls!
It wasn’t perfect as the mobile signal isn’t that good here, so it can be a bit less clear than normal and because of the redirect, it doesn’t ring straight away. But better than nothing.
Anyway, by Thursday afternoon we’d found an office to rent nearby with internet that we could direct phones to properly, moved the computers over, set up our own PC network and installed Louize, Emma and the others in there. It means it’s all back to working as normal, albeit in a different office. So a big sigh of relief…
As I say, apologies to anyone who rang while we were using mobiles and struggled to hear or didn’t get an answer as quickly as normal and also thanks to the Network Centre for getting us into an office so quickly and thank you to Laura, Louize, Simone, Emma and Jess for coping so well while we were running around madly trying to get it sorted.
And at least now it’s all working normally again, even if we’re in a different office for a week or two…
Warehouse clearance – Find out more about your family history
The last two weeks, I’ve mentioned that we’re clearing out some space in the warehouse and we’re selling out the last copies of a few things at half price – the digital photography videos and eBay videos.
There are also some videos that help you find out about your family history on the internet – so you can do it (or at least a lot of it) without leaving your home!
It’s very popular, I know – one survey I saw said it was the second most popular hobby in the UK – after gardening (and given the weather I can see out of the window today, maybe a better hobby for this time of year!)
In fact I know a little bit about it because my Mum and Dad have done quite a bit of research – it’s interesting to see where the family comes from and what the background of our different ancestors were.
Anyway, there’s more information about the videos, what they cover and so on here. Since we’re clearing them out, we’re offering them at half price – while they last. But once they’re all gone, we won’t be reprinting them.
Oh, and if you know anyone who might be interested, they could even make a good Christmas present!
Read the full info here.