Quick Bytes News – Spring 2017

Welcome to the Spring edition of QBN.

In this edition I cover a recent tightening of motoring law which affects how we use our mobile devices while driving. The accident statistics prove that  the changes needed doing because so many drivers are seemingly addicted to using their devices, any time, anywhere and regardless of hazards.

Also PCT has a ‘partnership’ with the Phone Coop for broadband and other services.

Office 365 or Office 2016? What’s the difference?

Mozilla have published their Survey of their Community Members views on Online Privacy.

And to end I add a touch of humour, courtesy of a cluster of late night mirth masters!

I hope you enjoy this edition.


Movable Beasts

My first article is about the recent change in UK law (1st March) that concerns every driver of any vehicle using a portable device whilst driving, though I do go a little further …

Naturally a device such as a Mobile Phone, Sat-Nav, Bluetooth Toys, or Pod Player is a technical device and so you may see my reason in mentioning them, but also because I am also a road user as are those I love, and accidents are increasingly being caused by self distracted zombie lemmings who use devices while they drive.

I now brand this category of hardware as Plod Magnets!

The gist of the new situation (as I understand it) is that anything that we take our hands off the wheel to use while the vehicles engine is running, (whether or not it its wheels are turning), is putting us at risk of infringing the Law defined as ‘Careless Driving’.

Naturally most of us carry smart phones these days which easily grab our attention in many ways according to how many App driven social media services you connect to, or simply by using text services or just the phones calling function!

Can we resist its little beeps, vibrations, or other notifications as we drive? We have to.

To see more details of this law’s definitions and how our doing quite ordinary things like tweaking your lover’s hair or your Sat-Nav or merely eating at the wheel can put you in the wrong, you might take a look at Automobile Association “Careless Driving”

Is there a safe way to use a phone & Drive?

No. According to the article this could also rule out Hands Free phoning or we take the risk that if an accident happened when doing so it might be argued that lack of full attention had contributed to the accident.

Employers also beware because if you expect your staff on the road to be in communication as they drive then you might become liable also.

So what can we do?

Phones

It seems that using the ‘Airplane Mode’ when ever the cars engine is running is a minimum safe guard to use and don’t be caught even touching a device while moving. There are cameras out there now aiming to snare you and these are fitted into specially set up lorries and elsewhere. Many reasons are given in this Automobile Association “Mobile Phones” article for any of you not so far persuaded of this.

Sat-Nav’s

Best to set it before you start the engine and don’t touch it unless you’re parked with the engine off.

Other Toys ….

The same goes for Hair Driers, Shavers, Sandwiches, Road Rage Gestures, Petting Animals, Stargazing, Rubber Necking, Reading Billboards, Hunting for Pokemon or Crop Circles, Applying Makeup or other Facial Enhancements, Eyeing up Scantily Clad Pedestrians, Re-securing Escaped Pets or Children, Smoking, Hot Political Discussion or shouting at Politicians on the Jeremy Vine Show, Any Passionate Activities, FGA – Fuel Gauge Anxiety (were flying on vapours Capt’n), Watching TV or Gaming on Smart Toys, Fiddling with your Home Hive Devices (or anything else) ……  any more?

Btw Please don’t fall asleep while driving because you have much less to occupy your mind!

Happy travels!


Phone Coop Offer 

PC Techniques has formed a partnership with The Phone Co-op to offer you a great deal on phone calls, line rental and broadband. You can now get our ‘Half price broadband offer for 6 months’ or get a £10 credit when you switch to one of our mobile bundles including Fairphone.

Quote PC Techniquesand the code ‘AF0485’ to receive a £10 credit on your first bill when you switch to one of our mobile bundles.

You can call them on 01608 434 000

Office 2016 vs. Office 365 – What is the difference?

There are two ways you can buy Microsoft Office. You can buy the traditional Microsoft Office 2016 product, or get it as part of an Office 365 software subscription. Here’s the difference. (via HowtoGeek)


Privacy Survey Results by Mozilla

Last month, some 30,000 Mozilla community members responded to our privacy survey.

Here’s what we learned from those respondents —  they are everyday Internet users from countries like France, Australia, Germany, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

A supporting story is below …

 

 

 

 


Alpha Fail – Humour!    

Who wants to be Second?

Strangely, some other nations are seeking to smooch with ‘Him’ for ‘second’ place!

This website offers a cocktail of humorous national contentions for second place as they vie for the favour from the infamous incumbent of The White House.

“Its Huge”


 For local low carbon IT Services with a smile!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Quick Bytes News – January 2017

Have up to 30 minutes FREE consultation time!
Have up to 30 minutes FREE consultation time!

Spammed Again?

 

To me SPAM is a response to success, and rather as in nature the  success I mention is like that of when a successful system becomes established that enables a species to improve on their prospects.

And then WHAM along comes the inevitable parasite specie that feeds off it somehow … evolution or just a pain where its not wanted!

So the parasitised specie has to develop a protective response or be consumed into oblivion, such is the way of these things it seems.

Now, to get to why this is relevant.

 

Along came email and enabled millions to communicate rapidly and en-masse to each other and naturally along came scamsters, thieves, bullies etc with their SPAM.

The imuno-response by the email system was to introduce Spam filters which work … mostly … but inevitably some ‘friendly fire’ casualties do happen which is the legitimate emails sent to you that are mistakenly trapped in your recipients spam trap. Often they don’t check to see if its there and so remain unaware that they have missed your email. Luckily this is a relatively rare event in the big picture but sometimes it might matter to see an email that is trapped.

 

So what can you do?

Google Mail (Gmail) has a long established reputation for having an effective spam trap that at times can be over zealous in its efforts. I show this email provider as my example because it is a very prominent player.

So if you know of senders to your Gmail mailbox who’s emails you would be particularly interested in seeing reliably then you can take a few simple pro-active steps to ensure you always allow through emails from that sender.

It goes like this;

Log into your Gmail account using your web browser (Edge, Firefox, Chrome, IceDragon etc)

Click on the ‘Show Search” options (a downward-pointing triangle in your Gmail’s Search field box.

Find the persons email address that you want to allow in your White list under the “From” listing.
Now select it to add it.

Multiple Selections
You do not have to create a separate filter for each address.
Separate addresses with an ‘|’ character in the “From” field instead.
Example:- To whitelist both “jenny@example.com” and Jelani@example.com”, enter “jenny@example.com|jelani@example.com”

To White List an entire Domain.

To whitelist an entire domain (all mail from an address ending in “aboutguide.com”, for example), type only the domain name or the domain name preceded by the ‘@’ character.

e.g. To whitelist “aboutguide.com”, type “@aboutguide.com” (not including the quotation marks).

Follow the Create filter with this search ›› link at the bottom of the search sheet.

Finally –  Do ensure the “Never send it to Spam” option is checked.

Now click “Create Filter”

DONE.

Naturally there are many other email providers who’s systems also allow you to establish a WhiteList similarly. All you need to do to find out how to do this for your particular one is to do a web search using the words …

“How to Whitelist a Sender or Domain in < e.g.Yahoo mail etc>”  (exclude the quote marks and squared brackets)

Obviously this only will work when your email recipients take these steps to help your emails to reach them, you cannot do it for them so please do feel free to send this article to them and just to ensure they do see it maybe phone or text them to say you have sent it so its not lost in their ‘Spam’ folder.

The link to reach it is:-    https://itsupportstroud.site/2017/01/05/quick-bytes-news-january-2017/   (copy paste it into your text or email to them)


vlc

Play it Again – VLC!

VLC is an abbreviation of  VideoLAN Client and this often unsung and free little hero application that has been around for a very long time and constantly improved with new features that are actually useful. And it is available on every operating system worth mention including smartphone OS’s!

It is from the ‘Open Sourced’ community of programme developers and these people have a long deserved reputation for producing software which is needed and useful, which in my view makes a nice alternative from the unnecessary feature-trivial, obese bloat-ware of paid vendors.

A useful short article on VLC’s many good uses is here

I have used it for years and must admit I didn’t know them all! Mostly I use it for listening to Radio Caroline or Classic Rock online radio stations, what are your choices of favourite music?

To download it I recommend getting it only from its original source as adware packed copies have been known to exist from those ‘downloads’ websites who make money by bundling up good software with their sponsors junkware.

You can Download VLC from here


mint

Linux Mint – Fast, Free to use, and much like Windows 7

 

Linux Mint is really proving itself these days!

And just like the VLC player above it is made and supported by an ‘Open Source’ community of programmers and so its provided free to use!

I have been testing it and trying out procedures on it to see how easily it could be used in substitute of Windows 7 which as you may know has nearly 3 more years of updates available from Microsoft remaining.

So its not panic time yet by far but unless you are happy to use the tiled and over colourfully activated  ‘App Happy’ desktop of Windows 8.x or 10 (which I see as like using an interface built by Fisher Price for kids!) then take a look at Linux Mint.

By comparison you can have a sensible attractive interface that has the , square and X placed in the top right of all windows just like in Windows 7. It also has a start button and programme listing that makes sense and is not trying to flog you junk and games when trying to use it!

Mint comes preloaded with the Firefox browser, LibreOffice (like MS Office and works with its data files), Thunderbird email client and the other useful apps for Video, Audio and more and you can add more applications yourself through its own Software Manager interface.

Try before you Jump!

And you don’t have to jump entirely into it unprepared either, it can run well in a Virtual Machine that runs inside Windows and so you can try it out and become confident using it before you need to make the change over. I use Oracle VirtualBox and guess what! That is free as well!

You can see more about Linux Mint here


And finally I use this opportunity to mention that I can also work on your telephone wiring to add a new extension or maybe to tidy it up or remove old wiring. I can also work with network cabling perhaps to help those of you unnerved by the concerning views of WiFi health  effects and Lloyds of London refusing to insure against them. (see point No 6 here)

I can provide guidance and solutions to mitigate your exposure to WiFi as best as possible, please do ask.

 

Happy New Year

 

Greg

Quick Bytes – Summer Holiday Edition

Greetings To All

I hope that those of you who have taken a work break enjoyed it or are still doing so if sat inside somewhere waiting for the rain/hail storm or associated winds to abate ( otherwise why would you be reading this when on holiday?).

Certainly this summer is proving that weather cannot be relied on to follow any previous ‘norms’ any more (probably our own collective fault but I won’t dwell on that obvious point right now).

For those of you yet to escape from ‘your norm’ I wish you happy journeys and suitable accomodation and weather!

In this edition I will cover considerations that affect both PC’s & Macs.

 

email – Changes to be aware of

In recent months many email providers have set out to achieve better security for customers by pro actively snaring that lousy spam that we all hate and also stopping as best as they can the more dangerous ‘spear phishing’ offerings from scammers and crooks who target us more efficiently than before.

Certainly I have received more of those emails recently myself in common with many and the danger was first in the zip file attachment on earlier ones, and more recently in a hyperlink in the message body. So what can be done as the crooks get smarter?

The first thing is to be aware of is any dodgy wording styles you see in any email you recieve, even one purporting to come from a known contact because until all email providers have caught up with these changes to their systems its still possible to spoof an email to fool the recipient by disguising the senders real email address. (see DKIM & SPF below)

Next is to beware of zip file attachments. My previous anti virus didn’t alert me to the attachments by snaring them, but because I am naturally cautious I didn’t open them. The rogue emails were from people I didn’t know and each one had a differennt email domain source, very suspicious! So I only I saved them to my Desktop and, because I doubted the ‘Clean’ report that came from my now previous anti virus (Panda) and (surprisingly) my anti malware (Malwarebytes), I posted it them up to virustotal where it lit up all over the screen as dangerous!

Its not good that many well known AV vendors also didn’t see the danger! So now I use one that did see it, Kaspersky (subscription), though BitDefender would have done if I didn’t find its console irritating. Those weren’t the only 2 that caught it but they are the ones I am more familiar with.

So unless you are very confident, your best friend is still Suspicion and its best pal, Caution.


SPF & DKIM

Though this might appear like a 1980’s pop queen duo its a lot less pretty but for reasons I mentioned above, its now much more necessary and will affect your outbound emails being successfully received so do read on.

SPF & DKIM are each little records that need to be added to your email domains DNS  settings so that when you send an email  from any other source than your own registered email domain, it will carry the necessary credentials to get through the ever tighter mail gateways of the recipient’s email service. Otherwise it may be dumped in the spam skip or simply ‘dropped’ by the server because the address of the sender system differs from the one the email is usually sent from.One of many mass send email online platforms is MailChimp and as an example they have offer this advice  …

“DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, and takes effect if an email fails certain types of authentication. DMARC policies benefit the email community as a whole because they help prevent phishing, spoofing, and the delivery of fraudulent emails. However, strict DMARC policies can sometimes misidentify your legitimate marketing emails as fraudulent and reject them.”

They add … “To improve deliverability, we encourage you to use a From email address at a domain owned by you or your organization, like firstname.lastname@mycompany.com. Not only will this help avoid delivery issues, it can help your subscribers recognize your brand. ” source http://kb.mailchimp.com/accounts/email-authentication/about-dmarc

As the web page shows the approach to DMARC when using a free email provider or a registered  email domain diffe,r so an enlightened approach is needed. But its worth getting yours set up before too many of your emails become lost.


Time is up and I must leave NOW, but Windows wants to Update!

We all realise a little late that we must stop working on our laptops and because time deliberately accelerates when we least want it to, we have to move on promptly. Perhaps because we need to make it to an appointment, catch a train or bus or because the partners birthday party begins in less than 1 hour but Windows then freezes us to the spot by forcing us to wait for updates to complete! The tension and self recrimination wheels can begin turning which might spoil your next meeting experience unless …. you do this.

  • Click on any empty area of the desktop or pressing Windows+D on your keyboard. Then, press Alt+F4 to access the Shut Down Windows dialog box.
  • To shut down without installing updates, select “Shut down” from the drop-down list.

For those of you wanting to be geeky you could add the following line to a batch file you save on your desktop and run it when the need arises.

shutdown -s -t 0


Mac’s & Viruses / Malware

Before the current time the sound & safe Mac was a safe system where viruses rarely made in-roads but this is now increasingly under threat from web based attacks through the browsers as you traverse the web. Most ‘nasties’ that affect PC’s still don’t run on Macs but the number that do are increasing steadily so I think it is now time to flag this up and offer guidance.

I went looking for answers and found this report from a verifiable source which gives a full review of the reasoning for anti virus on Mac’s and offers ideas on prevention both through extra user care, and by installing an anti virus which it gives comparatrive reviews on and across several vendors of the programme.

It is a long read but as you might expect its worth it by comparison to becoming infected, especially so if the infection encrypts your data and ransomes it back to you for a fat fee! As always I can help you with working to an understanding and discussing actions, please contact me for this.

Please do keep in mind that by backing up your data to my Stroud Cloud you will be able to fully recover your data in that event, if lightning strikes differently.


That is all for now, have a great late summer while the sun still shines.

 

If I can assist, advise or entertain you further in I.T related topics do give me a call!

 

Warm regards

 

Greg Dance

Free Time
Have up to 30 minutes FREE consultation time!

 

Quick Bytes News – Spring 2016

 

Welcome to the spring edition of QBN!

Some of you may be wondering where the March & April editions went, and the simple truth is that for several reasons I have been just too busy to get them written! So sorry about those absences but I hope this edition will make up for the missed postings!

 

In this edition I will draw together some of the news from the IT arena in a form which is not overly detailed so that I get more into a single edition.

If any of you wish to know more on one topic or more do let me know and I may then make it an article or feature in a later edition if enough interest is there for this. Otherwise of course you can ring me for a chat!

So here we go …


Obsolescence – the inevitable process.

Obsolescence is one of the inevitable processes when something is evolving and as you all know I.T. epitomises this.

So the first story I have of this is that if you are still using Windows XP or Vista and your chosen browser is Google Chrome then you need to be aware that Google have discontinued updates support for it.  So because Microsoft themselves discontinued updates 2 years ago also for XP and soon will do likewise for Vista, a move on to Windows 7 is really the best one for you to make (unless you don’t mind the very unfamiliar desktop of the more recent Windows 8.x & 10 operating systems).

Windows 7 updates are good for another 4 years or so and despite Microsofts best persuasive coercions many of us will hang on to this OS until a need drives us on.

 

End of Sales Microsoft Windows 7 & 8.x

End of sales refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMS are Dell and Toshiba—PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software.

This table gives end of sales dates for specific Windows operating systems.

Client operating systems and updates

End of sales for Windows preinstalled

 

Windows 7 Professional October 31, 2016
Windows 8 June 30, 2016
Windows 8.1 October 31, 2016

 

* Note that when the retail software product reaches its end of sales date, it can still be purchased through OEMs (the company that made your PC) until it reaches the end of sales date for PCs with Windows preinstalled.

Source:- http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/lifecycle#section_2

Security support for Windows 7 and 8, will end in 2020 and 2023 respectively.

 

Apple Quicktime Player

Its best to remove Apple’s Quicktime media player from your systems because its no longer supported and lets face it, its not necessary either.

“Computers running QuickTime for Windows will continue to work after support ends. However, using unsupported software may increase the risks from viruses and other security threats,” US-CERT said. “The only mitigation currently available is to uninstall QuickTime for Windows.” Public disclosure of the two bugs hastens the urgency for users to distance themselves from QuickTime for Windows. Both vulnerabilities expose Windows machines to remote code execution”.

See more at: Apple Deprecates QuickTime For Windows, Won’t Patch New Flaws https://wp.me/p3AjUX-uxZ

Privacy not Piracy

The piracy I refer to is when a web server uses various methods to steal your privacy for targeted advertising.

PC Techniques will be releasing a new service soon to help with keeping out the invaders, but until then here are some reasons to take notice of the question of ‘why’!

 

Twitter’s global operations and data transfer

Twitter Trouble.jpg

In the small print has crept in this …

“Our services are a window to the world. They are primarily designed to help people share information around the world instantly.

To bring you these services, we operate globally. Twitter, Inc., based in the United States, and Twitter International Company, based in Ireland, (collectively, “we”) provide the services, as explained in theTwitter Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We have offices, partners, and service providers around the world that help to deliver the services.

Your information, which we receive when you use the services, may be transferred to and stored in the United States, Ireland, and other countries where we operate, including through our offices, partners, and service providers. In some of these countries, the privacy and data protection laws and rules on when data may be accessed may differ from those in the country where you live.

 

How cyber criminals use social engineering

This article from Malwarebytes is useful to give you an idea of how they try to get past your defences by pretending legitimacy based on information they have acquired from elsewhere about you.

 

More Google

An interesting article here from Techcrunch on how Google are at last cleaning up their act ahead of legislation to protect consumers

“Google is cleaning up its Chrome Web Store – the marketplace where you can browse for extensions and apps for its Chrome web browser. The company says it’s making changes to browser’s User Data Policy, which will now require developers to be more transparent about how they handle customer data, and which will require user consent when data is collected, among other things.

The changes come at a time when the Chrome Web Store has been targeted by malware makers, who have posted rogue extensions that do terrible things like spy on web users and collect their personal data”

 

Journalist Gets Hacked While Writing Apple-FBI Story

“That’s why this story is so important to everyone,” says hacker, who was a fellow passenger on his flight.

The article on the dangers of using an open WiFi (no password needed) is here

 


Finally, for now..

I do hope you are not put off by these articles from realising the potential for good that technologies offer to us.

To me its like being in a strange land as a tourist, you keep your senses tuned in to your enviroinment, wear appropriate protections  and don’t get hooked into a story that just looks toooo super real! (aka clickbait stories in ads posted on websites which are overly sensationalised or otherwise appear unreal.

 

A story of the future of I.T which may prove to offer us happier outcomes

“Imagine walking on Mars and being able to examine rock formations from all angles, or collaborating on the same 3D hologram design with someone thousands of miles away.

Or imagine being able to diagnose and treat the diseases of people half way around the world while you remain in your clinic, or walking around a gallery and having your own holographic guide pointing things out to you on your smart glasses.

These are just some of the exciting examples of what “augmented reality” (AR) technology is beginning to offer us.”

source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35629715?

 


Do call me if you want a chat!

Greg  07579001747