Monday 11 November 2013

The Advantages Of Disloyalty

For any of you with an iDevice (and we're guessing that's a lot) you will probably be familiar with iMessage, the built in messaging app that comes with nearly all Apple products. Fairly solid service. However, somewhat like a spoilt child (or a multi-national, billion dollar enterprise) iMessage will not play nicely with any other messaging service or operating system. So if you have a friend who dares not to possess a Cupertino necessity, you may have to text them (remember texts) or, deep breath, talk to them.

There are, of course, perfectly viable alternatives. WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Kik, MessageMe, Line, Voxer, BBM - take your pick, all of which have the major advantage of being cross-platform. Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry, even Nokia (I never thought I'd say 'even Nokia'), you can communicate regardless of the device. Let's do that exercise again. Take a photograph on your iPhone, share it via Photo Stream and your iPad will be delighted. If your Windows Phone owning friend wants a copy though, they are out of luck. Be disloyal and auto-upload to Dropbox however and go share-crazy.

Another approach is one that many of us here at Estuary favour. One of us has an iPad as their tablet of choice and an Android device as their phone. On the odd occasion when a must-have app is only released on one platform, we're covered. We have recently written some apps and are ready to test them on both major platforms. The same principle applies to desktop computers. Microsoft Windows will run on an Apple Mac much easier than OSX, Apple's operating system, will run on a PC. So owning a Mac, although an expensive proposition, allows you to get the best (relatively speaking) of both worlds.

There are no perfect answers when it comes to owning tech and the product simply does not exist that will single-handedly do everything you want it to all the time. Still, some judicious purchasing will cover a lot of eventualities.

Done. (How bracket-tastic was that post?!)

Monday 4 November 2013

I'm Over Here (Which Means I'm Not Over There)

Today, more than ever, people interact with social networking by means of their mobile devices, bringing images and unique interactive data to the masses.

We've often seen images of our friends on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram etc, with a location tag linked to the image.  Gradually our photo's on our devices get organised to location, so we can quickly find images we took when were were on our holiday in some sunny or fun location.

However, with this exciting and interesting addition, comes a word of caution - particularly if our privacy settings are not closed down enough.

With today's technology and search engine power, it is not too difficult for a criminal to build up a picture of your movements if your location services are switched on to public access.  They'll be able to see and work out where you are by following your twitter account, your Facebook account or your Instagram account and know when you are at various locations.  And of course, while you are in a new location... you are NOT at home.

It might be easy to conclude that nobody knows where you live, but with a few deductions, a few checks on the names of the friends you have, or the school you attended or place you work, your address details could easily be discovered.  We'll let your over imaginative thoughts conclude what could happen if a criminal knew where you lived and when you were not at home.

So what can we do about it?  

Let's not be party poopers and suggest that we don't take photo's of our holidays (although the thought of going through hundreds of "and this is another picture of that sandwich we ate in France" photo's does make us consider this). No realistically it would be a far better idea to ensure that our location services are restricted to friends and family and make sure that those we have listed amongst friends and family are just that. Friends and family.

Technology will always have it's place in society, it's made enough of an impact to never go out of fashion in today's life, but its also open to abuse. And abused it is. It's used to advance everything, including crime.  So by doing our part, we can reduce the risk of it happening to us.