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Hack4Humanity: Students code for social good at Google’s first ever 48 hour hackathon!

While most college students were preparing for finals and eagerly awaiting winter break, 89 students from 10 universities on the East Coast spent the weekend at Google NYC’s Hack4Humanity. Over two sleep-deprived and caffeine-fueled days, these students used their computer science skills to build technologies for social good.

The hackathon opened with several inspirational talks from experts in the humanitarian world, including speakers from UNICEF, the UN Foundation and Christopher Reeve, a journalist working in conflict zones, including Egypt and Gaza. As the hackathon kicked off, members of the Google Ideas team spoke about several major humanitarian challenges facing the world today: online repression and censorship, gender-based violence, and risks facing vulnerable populations. Google Ideas is a team that uses technology to help people confront threats in the face of conflict, instability and repression. These topics informed the project tracks for the event.

After the formal kickoff, Google Ideas engineer Baris Yuksel led the groups in a brainstorming session where they scoped out potential projects. Once projects were drafted, students were set to work on their first major block of coding (with a break for midnight pizza, of course). Students worked with more than 25 Google engineer mentors throughout the event and had “brain breaks” for massages, cookies, gourmet coffee tasting and, of course, Taylor Swift dance parties.

On Sunday, students demonstrated their projects in front of our six judges (three Google Ideas judges and three UN judges). After many amazing demos, our judges deliberated and chose our top three prize winners. Awarded third place were the “Inverse Pandas” from Harvard University, who presented Fire, their SMS-based emergency contact app. In second place were “The Powershell Girls” from New York University, with their app HIDR, an easy to use file encryption tool for traveling with sensitive information, intended for use by journalists and others crossing conflict zone checkpoints. And winning the grand prize were “quickSorta” from Swarthmore University, with Alli, a community-based app for alerting your network if you feel you are in a threatening or uncomfortable situation – intended to help bring male and female students together to minimize sexual threats on college campuses.

Congratulations to all of our Hack4Humanity participants! The entire Google team commends all of our student hackers on their thoughtfulness, hardwork, and dedication to improving the lives of those in need. Google looks forward to continuing our partnership and supporting the next generation of developers doing social good!

Posted by Meggie Smith, Hack4Humanity team

Computer Virus

If you have used a computer long enough, then you have probably had a virus infect your computer at some point. You know how annoying and potentially dangerous they can be to your PC and you wish you knew how to remove a computer virus. There are many …

What VPN Client software do you use with a Watchguard IPSec VPN?

On Microsoft Windows computers, the operating system does not include a native IPSec VPN Client that is compatible with the Watchguard IPSec VPN.  On Microsoft Windows computers, you must use a third-party application.  You can use the free and open source Shrew Soft VPN Client Standard for Windows.  When you install the Shrew Soft VPN Client, it defaults to installing the Professional version which requires a charge.  Please select Standard when installing the Shrewsoft VPN Client.

Please Note: It is also possible to use the WatchGuard IPSec Mobile VPN Client software to access the Watchguard IPSec VPN.  However the WatchGuard IPSec Mobile VPN Client is a commercial product that requires a fee.  It is also important to note that you do not want to install both the WatchGuard IPSec Mobile VPN Client and the Shrew Soft VPN Client on the same computer.  If you do so, your LAN connection will fail due to a conflict between the two programs. If this occurs, simply uninstall one of the IPSec VPN Clients and reboot Windows.

On Apple Mac OSX, Apple iOS, Android 4.x and later devices, the operating systems includes a native IPSec VPN Client that is fully compatible with the Watchguard IPSec VPN.

How do you setup a VPN using an ISP modem that does not offer Bridge Mode nor a Public Static IP Address?

Public Static IP Address

You may find the ISP does not provide a Public Static IP Address with a Business Account or any account type.  An example of this would be Clear Wireless Internet.  This issue can be surmounted by utilizing the DynDNS capabilities that exist within the modem and/or firewall you are using.  It may be preferable to upgrade the ISP modem to their currently supported model.  In the example of Clear Wireless Internet, this would be the Gemtek Clear Hub Express.

ISP Modem Bridge Mode

If the ISP modem does not have the capability of going into Bridge Mode, it may have the capability of utilizing IP Passthrough.  You would then enable IP Passthrough and disable the ISP Modem firewall as the subsequent firewall appliance for the VPN will block inbound internet traffic.  Or you could define port-forwards within the ISP modem rather than disabling the ISP modem firewall.

In the Clear Wireless Gemtek Clear Hub Express:

  1. Select Advanced Settings – Router – DynDNS Information  
  2. Select Advanced Settings – Router – IP Passthrough – Enable/Check IP Passthrough
  3. Select Advanced Settings – Firewall – Enable Firewall – Disabled/Uncheck Enable Firewall