Frontline Marine Conservation/Science Support

MarineBio often supports seagrass-roots marine conservation efforts whose work is similar to our mission of sharing the wonders of the ocean realm to inspire education, research, and a sea ethic.

Solar System Simulator by NASA/JPL/CaltechWe believe the marine science & conservation community would be better served by working together to avoid duplication of efforts and to reduce the amount of work involving spreading awareness, ocean education and conservation research. Projects or campaigns shared/supported by MarineBio work independently but resources and the exchange of experience and ideas should be shared.

We also believe that marine ecosystems need to be protected and managed in a holistic way, because the entire biosphere is interconnected. Solutions to the most urgent problems in the marine environment will be generated and implemented more effectively through collaboration, cooperation, and coalition building among a diverse group of organizations and individuals who share the common goal of preserving and restoring the ocean realm for future generations.

MarineBio provides a wide range of online support and visibility for its projects and others, on a case-by-case basis. Each project  manages its own fundraising efforts, etc. as well. Services MarineBio can provide includes advice on the various aspects of having an effective online presence, outreach, publicity and awareness for campaigns, guidance for strategic planning, and project website design, online security, social networking and messaging.

General online/computer advice for frontline conservation/science groups

Notes:

  • the following is for the 90% of Web surfers who use Windows 10 (and 8/7) though most of the below applies to everyone online…
  • this is a quick list based on our personal experiences from being online since the beginning of the Web (’95) and is provided as general advice. Expect this list to evolve as things change online.
  • email us @ info@marinebio.org with corrections/additions anytime. Be safe!

Web Browsers

laptop, apple, macbook

  • Use only the most secure and popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Brave – recommend installing all 3 for testing websites as well). Uninstall Internet Explorer and use Edge ONLY to test your websites until or if it becomes more mature.
  • Beware of plugins/extensions, research each one thoroughly before installing it, less is more. Adblock Plus/AdBlocker Ultimate, UBlock Origin, Decentraleyes, Web of Trust, LastPass, HTTPS Everywhere, etc. are what we use in every browser (on our desktops, laptops AND mobile devices). Check browser settings as well and choose those with the highest security.
  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or even Tor www.torproject.org/, see Best VPNs for Windows 10 www.tomsguide.com/us/best-vpn-windows,review-6232.html
  • Keep your browsers updated! To check, go to Menu > Help > About [browser name] or use an update checker like Patch My PC patchmypc.com/home-updater-download
  • Only use your browsers if your system is properly protected (see Computers below)
  • Never ignore warnings in your browser. If it says proceeding could be dangerous, close your browser or go somewhere else. When in doubt, close your browser. Use Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager (click your desktop first), if need be, to then manually close your browser (right-click > End task).
  • Use Third-Party DNS Servers, see why at howtogeek.com/122845/htg-explains-what-is-dns/
  • Use common shortcuts support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12445/windows-keyboard-shortcuts – many of these work in your browsers as well and can greatly speed up online work. Ones we use all the time include ctrl click (opens link in a new tab), ctrl c (copy), ctrl v (paste), ctrl z (undo), ctrl s (save), F5 (refresh/reload), shift ctrl delete (opens clear cache window > choose All Time and check all except passwords unless you’re using a password manager like LastPass), etc.

Sources/references
www.google.com/chrome/
www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
www.brave.com/
www.pcworld.com/article/3213031/best-web-browsers.html
www.tomsguide.com/us/pictures-story/283-best-google-chrome-extensions.html
www.tomsguide.com/us/best-vpn-windows,review-6232.html
www.torproject.org/
patchmypc.com/home-updater-download
www.howtogeek.com/122845/htg-explains-what-is-dns/
www.opendns.com/
developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/
support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12445/windows-keyboard-shortcuts

Computers

work, typing, computer

There are basically two kinds of computers: desktops/mobile devices (personal computers/PCs) and servers. They all have a few things in common:

  1. they all run Operating Systems (OSes) that need to be regularly updated for security, performance and feature updates,
  2. they all run software that, you guessed it, needs to be regularly updated for security, performance and feature updates, and
  3. all that code runs on hardware that has its own needs, such as a cool, dry, clean environment, steady electricity, and the proper software (drivers) to “operate” correctly in your OS.

Servers (where your website resides and is “served” from) are usually maintained by your web host. They provide optimal environments, power and usually the latest software to properly serve your website to the world.

  • It’s a good idea to ask your host when signing up what aspects you’ll need to be on top of going forward (involving your developer here is a good idea as well).
  • Things to ask/be aware of are things like the PHP (page code language) version, MySQL (wordpress/drupal/joomla database) version, SPAM protection involving your site email accounts, presence/attributes of your server’s firewall, apps available, at the server level (cpanel, caching apps, staging, backups, logging, etc.), to help with security and traffic, server updates and optimization.
  • Disk space and bandwidth limits are also very important to be aware of (both of which if exceeded can severely impact your website’s availability and/or performance).

PCs – we’ll keep this short. Or at least we’ll try…

  • ONLY use strong unique passwords on all logins (those include logging into your computer and all online accounts). And only use a Standard account for normal day-to-day work (especially when surfing online). Reserve the Administrator account for troubleshooting, backup, etc.
  • Keep your PC’s OS and software (apps) updated. Given the trouble Microsoft has had recently concerning OS updates, we recommend postponing windows updates about a month or so from release to make sure they’ve not released updates that could crash your PC. BUT do then update your PC. Updates are often a mix of security updates, performance enhancements, bug fixes, etc. so the longer you wait the more you are at risk.
  • Learn how to update your other software on your PC. You can do each manually (usually look under Help in each program) or use an app like patchmypc.com/home-updater-download which scans all your software and allows you to update all that have updates. Software updates are as important as OS updates so stay on top of it… you can set a reminder in your calendar to check all once a month if that helps.
  • Use virus and malware protection software such as Bit Defender www.bitdefender.com/ AND Malwarebytes www.malwarebytes.com/. This includes those of you using Apple PCs. Don’t listen to people who say you don’t need them, you do. The Web is a public space after all. Make sure they are running continuously (you might need to pay a bit for full or Premium versions) and are updated, have scanned your entire PC, and perform daily or at least weekly threat scans. DO NOT IGNORE any messages from either of these apps. Ever.
  • DO NOT CLICK. You see something interesting or “important” online but are not sure if you should click on it… just don’t. You get an email with an attachment or link in it, DO NOT CLICK on it, that’s the #1 way people get hacked which can, these days, brick your machine or have it held for ransom which can cost thousands of dollars to unlock it and you still might not get your PC back to normal. About 30% of PCs in the U.S. are currently hacked, with many not even aware that they’ve been hacked while their PC is used by hackers to attack others, serve illegal files, etc. The best defense is just not to click on links or attachments, ever, even from what looks like friends or relatives. Contact them for verification and go to sites linked in your browser by typing in addresses manually if you must. Hackers (the bad ones: see us.norton.com/internetsecurity-emerging-threats-what-is-the-difference-between-black-white-and-grey-hat-hackers.html for the differences) are mostly looking to steal money, they are nothing more than common thieves and they will clean out your bank account if you let them.
  • Don’t be the low hanging fruit and you should be OK. If you get hacked, usually you’ll need to delete everything and restore your PC using an uninfected backup (can change ALL passwords for ALL accounts online…). You’ll probably need a nerd for that, and we’re not cheap. :-) See Malwarebytes blog for more info about staying secure online: blog.malwarebytes.com/. If you think you’re infected, disconnect your PC from the Internet and use another clean PC to post your problem at forums.malwarebytes.com/ or again, grab your nerd (he/she will probably use forums.malwarebytes.com/ as well).

It is possible to be safe online without worrying about it all the time. Learn a bit, automate as much as possible, check/test things periodically… learn a bit more….

  • Back it up. See Tom’s page “Best Cloud Backup Services 2019” www.tomsguide.com/us/best-cloud-backup,review-2678.html – we like Tom, be like Tom. Backup your PC right now. We’ll wait….
  • Lastly, pay attention to how your PC works in terms of speed, etc. If you notice even a tiny change then you should grab your nearest nerd and tell them about it. PCs often give you hints when things are starting to go wrong… slowness, noise changes, strange messages/behaviors, etc. Often you can return things to normal if you catch things soon enough. Hardware does just fail though (hard drives usually last 2-4 years, fans burn out, etc.), so plan on it and learn how to clone and replace drives, cards, memory, etc. or find a shop/nerd nearby that is reasonable with how much they charge for diagnoses and repairs. We hope this page helps all those helping others and especially marine life and we wish you all happy surfing! :-)

Sources/references
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_(computing)
patchmypc.com/home-updater-download
www.bitdefender.com/
www.malwarebytes.com/
blog.malwarebytes.com/
www.tomsguide.com/us/best-cloud-backup,review-2678.html
forums.malwarebytes.com/

I hope the above has been helpful, let me know at info@marinebio.org if you have any corrections, etc.

Websites

We use and recommend WordPress, hands down. It’s used by about 1/3 of sites online, it’s supported by a huge developer/user base and it’s free… though you will need to pay for a domain name, hosting, a decent theme, and some addons, depending upon your needs.

Simplified overview of a typical website and its relationship to server resources, etc.

Domain name/hosting: we currently use/recommend SiteGround: siteground.com – which offers top services and support. Their customer service is outstanding and they are typically the top recommended Web host online.

  • Most hosts allow you to install WordPress after you sign up in their control panel via a click. This is the point to involve a web designer/developer. The order is typically:
    1. pick a domain name based on your business name, see if it’s available at services like www.networksolutions.com/domain-name-registration/index.jsp – make sure it’s easy to spell (avoid hyphens!), as short as possible and that common misspellings don’t send potential visitors to nasty or competitor’s sites,
    2. pick a host and plan, sign up, register your chosen domain name,
    3. find a wordpress theme at a site like themeforest.net/category/wordpress (take your time, involve your designer/developer) and buy/download it (most free themes are simply NOT worth the trouble they often cause),
    4. get your designer to install it and start setting up overall design, site structure, menus, widgets, plugins, etc. www.wpbeginner.com/ while your content team readies the content that will be used on pages/posts on the new site, and
    5. load the site and test, test, test: developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ … and don’t forget Mobile device testing (various phones and tablets): search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
  • Be sure your site uses SSL (https) and the full version of a top security plugin like Wordfence wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/ to prevent against hacking, etc.
  • Be sure your site uses a top backup service like UpdraftPlus wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/ AND be sure to also back up your site to your local computers or wherever else you save backups. A good rule is one copy in the cloud (online) and one locally, just in case.
  • Be careful with user accounts, limit permissions to only those absolutely needed by other users. There should be only ONE admin account. And just as importantly as with PCs, make sure every password used (admin login, user logins, ftp accounts, email accounts, etc.) is unique and very strong.

Track how your site is doing using a service like Google Analytics: analytics.google.com/analytics/web/ and check for and fix broken links using a plugin like Broken Link Checker: wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/

We also recommend the following plugins (search/review them at Plugins > Add New inside your WordPress site): Akismet Anti-Spam, Custom Login Page Customizer, Duplicate Post, Easy HTTPS (SSL) Redirection, Google Language Translator, Mailchimp for WordPress, Redirection, Slider Revolution, Wordfence Security, WP Edit, WP Google Maps/Rank Math SEO, SG Optimizer/WP Rocket/WP Super Cache, Imagify/Smush, WP-DBManager, WP-Sweep, Woocommerce and WPS Hide Login, to name a few. Like Browser plugins/extensions, less is more. Test your whole site after you install each one and NEVER install two plugins that do the same or similar things (like two security plugins or two cache plugins…). Some plugins just suck but thankfully there’s plenty to choose from and sites like www.wpbeginner.com/ to help you decide which to try and even how to use them.

For those of you that would like to do it yourself, we recommend the following to get you started:

Lastly, a few things about running “successful” websites:

    1. Content is king, people come for your content so reward them with original, interesting, useful, surprising, funny… world-class content,
    2. Don’t make people think to use your site. There are two kinds of visitors typically a) browsers and b) searchers. Browsers click around to find things, typically scanning text and clicking on pictures. Searchers want what they seek NOW. Make sure your search returns what it should, reward both types of visitors for coming to your site, and
    3. Update your site every day or every hour for maximum results. Give and you shall receive. Experiment, test, adjust, experiment, test, evolve. Ask visitors what they like, what they need, what bugs them, what their goals are. Hire user groups, study successful sites. Follow the Standards www.w3.org/standards/ – don’t reinvent the wheel unless it’s an airplane. And don’t reinvent the airplane either….

Sources/references
wordpress.org/
www.techradar.com/best/best-website-hosting-service
www.networksolutions.com/domain-name-registration/index.jsp
themeforest.net/category/wordpress
www.wpbeginner.com/
developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/
wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/
www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/best-wordpress-security-plugins-compared/
www.hostgator.com/blog/best-wordpress-security-plugins/
www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/7-best-wordpress-backup-plugins-compared-pros-and-cons/
analytics.google.com/analytics/web/
wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/
www.w3.org/standards/

Have questions or need more help? Contact David Campbell via facebook or email.

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