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 conservation community would be better served by working together to avoid duplication of efforts and to reduce the amount of work on 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 might be shared.

We believe that marine ecosystem needs 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 to preserve and restore the ocean realm for future generations.

MarineBio provides a wide range of online support system 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 include 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 and messaging.

We welcome relevant projects to submit letters of interest describing their projects and online goals. Provided the mission of the project is in keeping with MarineBio’s Mission, we look forward to joining forces and together helping to make a positive impacts on marine science and conservation issues. Feel free to also call us at +1 (713) 248-2576 to discuss the possibilities.

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 and dirty list based on my personal experiences from being online since the beginning (’95) and is provided as general advice. Expect this list to change as things change online, etc.
  • email us @ info@marinebio.org with corrections/additions anytime, I’m sure I’ve missed lots of useful things. Be safe!

Web Browsers

  • Use the most secure and popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Opera – recommend installing all 3 for testing websites as well). Uninstall Internet Explorer, use Edge ONLY to test your websites.
  • Beware of plugins/extensions, research each one thoroughly before installing, less is more. Adblock Plus/AdBlocker Ultimate, Web of Trust, LastPass, HTTPS Everywhere, etc. are what we use on every browser. Check browser settings as well and choose those with the highest security.
  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or even Tor https://www.torproject.org/, see Best VPNs for Windows 10 https://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 https://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, if need be, to then manually close your browser (right-click > End task).
  • Use Third-Party DNS Servers, see why at https://www.howtogeek.com/122845/htg-explains-what-is-dns/
  • Use common shortcuts https://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), etc.

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

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.

  • Domain name/hosting: we currently use/recommend Hostgator: https://www.hostgator.com/ – which offers services from the very basic (for low traffic sites) to full Enterprise level dedicated servers (for very high traffic/app needs). Their customer service is outstanding and they are typically in the top few recommended hosts online. See pages like https://www.techradar.com/best/best-website-hosting-service for details and comparisons.
  • 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 https://www.networksolutions.com/domain-name-registration/index.jsp,
    2. pick a host and plan, sign up, register your chosen domain name,
    3. find a wordpress theme at a site like https://themeforest.net/category/wordpress (take your time, involve your designer/developer) and buy/download it,
    4. get your designer to install it and start setting up overall design, site structure, menus, widgets, plugins, etc. https://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: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ … and don’t forget Mobile device testing (various phones and tablets: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
  • Be sure your site uses SSL (https) and the full version of a top security plugin like Wordfence https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordfence/ to prevent against hacking, etc.
  • Be sure your site uses a top backup service like UpdraftPlus https://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.
  • Track how your site is doing using a service like Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/ and check for and fix broken links using a plugin like Broken Link Checker: https://wordpress.org/plugins/broken-link-checker/
  • I 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, WP Super Cache, WP-DBManager, WP-Sweep 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 https://www.wpbeginner.com/ to help you decide which to try and even how to use them.
  • 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… content,
    2. Don’t make people have to 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. Always, 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. Hire user groups, study successful sites. Follow the Standards https://www.w3.org/standards/ – don’t reinvent the wheel unless it’s an airplane. And don’t reinvent the airplane either….

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

Computers

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 (OS) 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 database) version, SPAM protection involving your site email accounts, presence/attributes of your server’s firewall, apps available, at the server level, to help with security and traffic, server updates and optimization.
  • Disk space and bandwidth limits are also very important to be aware of.

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

  • Keep your PC’s OS and software (apps) updated. Given the trouble Microsoft has had recently concerning OS updates, I’d 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 https://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 https://www.bitdefender.com/ AND Malwarebytes https://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 something online and 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. The best defense is just not to click on links or attachments, ever, even from what looks like friends or relatives. Go to the site linked in your browser by typing in addresses manually if you must. Hackers (the bad ones: https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-emerging-threats-what-is-the-difference-between-black-white-and-grey-hat-hackers.html) are mostly looking to steal money, they will clean out you bank account if you let them in.
  • 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. You’ll probably need a nerd for that, and we’re not cheap. :-) See Malwarebytes blog for more info about staying secure online: https://blog.malwarebytes.com/. If you think you’re infected (~30% of US PCs are…), disconnect your PC from the Internet and use another clean PC to post your problem at https://forums.malwarebytes.com/ or again, grab your nerd (he/she will probably use https://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” https://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, etc. Often you can return things to normal if you catch things soon enough. Hardware just fails (hard drives usually last 2-4 years, fans burn out, etc.), when depends upon original state, use, environment, etc.

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

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