Thursday 23 January 2014

Let's Talk

There was a time when your communication options amounted to telephone, fax or letter. (In fairness, there was a time when your options were papyrus and horse but moving on). We now have any number of options including mobile, text, messaging apps and social networks. Many bemoan the lack of personal communication, feeling that 'nothing beats a phone call'.

The telephone is an incredibly rude device. It's the equivalent of walking into a room and saying "talk to me now, talk to me now, talk to me now." Understandable in an emergency but fairly inexcusable otherwise. The other modern means of communication have the advantage of saying "I would like to tell you something, when you're ready."

The perception may be that a phone call will get a quicker answer and there is some truth in that, although not always. It is possible to phrase a greeting, question and sign off in three or four sentences in an email, circumventing a phone call involving a greeting, generic enquiry about life, prelude to the question, question, asking the question a different way, discovering the answer to that question is not possible straight away, an arrangement on how to find the answer, a wishing of well and saying goodbye three times. Even worse when the phonee has just come back from holiday and wants to describe it to you in detail. I'm looking at you Brian.

That is a two-way street. Personally, if I get asked a question out of the blue on the telephone, I can hear myself explaining it extremely poorly without the possibility of editing it. I can hone an email down to a work of art. It's almost Shakespearian. No really.

Of course, we are not anti-phone. This is largely about using the right tool for the right job. Still, discounting email or other electronic means of communication in the 21st century is short-sighted at best. Disagree? Let's talk about it. Text me.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

"I am invincible!"

We often hear an all too common expression "I have an apple.. ergo, I am immune to viruses"

It often makes me want to grab their face and slap them a few times in the hope of waking them up a little.

I am sorry to burst your bubble, but an apple is just another computer. It runs the same way as a PC. It has a processor, memory, hard drives, graphics chips.. it's the same.   It has an operating system which is one huge program that allows other programs to run on it.

And there, my friends, is the whole issue that tends to be ignored.

Anything can be hacked today. Anything.  We've heard of big companies being attacked by hackers and they've been running their own bespoke operating systems.  Corporations are starting to get more concerned because of cyber terrorists that could essentially hack into pretty much anything that affects our day to day living.

So why don't Apples get viruses?  *slap* They do. The fact is that they are equally as vulnerable as a Windows or Linux machine in getting a virus. The reason they don't get as many is because, like it or not, Microsoft still have about a 90% hold on the market. And thus because of this, hackers who want to have the biggest impact will have a go at the biggest market share.

Sadly, because Apples are becoming more and more popular, hackers are turning their attention toward these devices and writing some nasty code. Soon, there will be more viruses spreading around.

However, now is the time to wake up and realise that your system is not impervious to being hacked. All the time you have your head buried in the sand, your system could be getting data taken off it, or information ruined.

Get yourself protected. Do it now. Have a firewall set up on your router and have a highly rated anti virus running.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

How To Not Get Cut By The Cutting Edge

By virtue of the industry we work in, we're quite keen to keep ourselves up-to-date. That obviously means ensuring our operating systems, anti-virus and other software are the latest versions. Updating will often add new features and fix problems, whether obvious or behind the scenes. Generally, it's a good idea, although not without exception.

Most modern phones also run operating systems, likely iOS or Android. One of our programmers recently updated his phone to the latest Android version, only to find it slow to a crawl and become dangerously close to unusable. A little research established he was not alone and it took about a month for a fix to be issued. The problem traced back to the phone manufacturer rather than Google but it was a frustrating few weeks.

So regular updating is valuable, but it's often worth not being in the very first wave of up-takers. Waiting for any early reports of problems may save you a lot of difficulties in the long run.