Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Internet Security

At the end of my recent post on creating a memorable strong password I mentioned that it [password] was only one layer in ensuring good security. Well my friend and Internet Security Specialist, Ava Warner runs the excellent webbytes blog. Ava has 10+ years in the IT industry and her blog is a wonderful resource for security, home networking and assorted tips and tricks to assist your online activities.
So go check her out at and become a follower.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Password is ...

Well I'm not going to tell you. However, for some, you may as well just tell a potential hacker/nosy person what your password is. When choosing a password to protect your data and transactions you will want to make it complex but memorable. No sense creating a complex password then writing it on a sticky attached to your monitor.
How then to choose and create a safe password that is memorable?

Let us start with what not to do.

Do not:

  • Use Dictionary Words
  • Date of Birth, social security or any biographic data
  • Names of your pet, family, etc.
  • Continuous numbers and/or letters (e.g abc123)
  • Use numbers and symbols
  • Make it at least 8 characters long
  • Use a cipher (explained below)
A cipher is a method of writing using either substitution or transposition. Below are a few examples.
Take a phrase(or quotation) you like, e.g "The rain in Spain falls on the plain." Your password would use the first letter of every word and become trisfotp. Using a different phrase; "Barkeep, give me one for the road!" Here your password becomes b,gm14tr! Now you have two examples of creating a memorable and complex password.
Once you've chosen a password, you can check it here(
Keep in mind that your password is only one layer of good security for your computer system and having a strong password will not stop a determined hacker with enough time and resources. A strong password does, however, make your system less of a target.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One charger to rule them all

With each new cellphone you purchase you get a new charger. Your new phone doesn't work with any of your old chargers, sometimes even for the same brand but different series. If you loose your charger you have to look for a replacement for that, in most cases, specific model. Arrrrggggghhhhh.
The manufacturers have heard your cry and have signed on to offer a standard interface (plug) for your phones across brands.
micro usb charger interface, listing of supporting companies
The new standard will use a micro usb plug and this will be the same for any phones made by almost all of the major cellphone makers (LG, Samsung, Motorola, Sony, Nokia, etc). Most notable by their absence is Apple, makers of the iPhone.
The trade association that brokered the deal says that the "majority" of cellphones by 2012 will have this universal charging solution (UCS).
So if you are in the market for a new phone check or ask your sales rep if the handset you're interested in has a micro usb charger.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Navigating a new computer purchase

RAM, Gigabytes, Dual Core, GHz, DVD/RW+, oh my! The specifications that are displayed to lure prospective buyers of new computer systems can be confusing, misleading or both. Here I will give you four (4) core criteria for selecting a computer for your small business. The other specifications are in essence, accessories.

1. Hard Drive Capacity
This is where your data and programs will live, therefore it is imperative that you purchase a system that has an ample amount of storage capacity. Sale sheets and specifications, list hard drive size(capacity) in terms of gigabytes(GB). My recommendation is that you choose a system that is at least 80GB in size, 120GB if the machine will also be for personal, non-business use.

2. Memory (RAM)
Memory here refers to Random Access Memory(RAM). RAM is where your running programs are temporarily stored to allow for quicker access by the computer. In newer systems its capacity is also measured in GB. However, the capacities aren't as large as those of your hard drive and are more expensive. Look for a system that has at least 2GB of RAM.
N.B Unless your specifications explicitly state the the Operating System is 64bit you don't need more than 3.5GB of RAM.

By choosing a system that has either a rewritable CD or DVD drive - newer systems have drives that do both - you have now enabled yourself to pursue a simple backup solution that can be taken off-site for further security. Preferably you would choose a rewritable DVD drive as a DVD holds more data than does a CD.

4. Warranty and Support
A computer is an important purchase and is daily becoming almost indispensable when doing business. With this in mind you will want to inquire about the warranties available first from the manufacture and then from the vendor.  For your business I would recommend a warranty of at least two years that covers replacement for hard drives and other defective parts.

Armed with these four criteria your next purchase of a new computer should now be easier.  You will also being able to spend only what in necessary on said new system. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


What is a netbook and why might you consider owning one?
A netbook is basically a small, low cost laptop. Netbook is the marketing name in common use and these devices were one of 2008's hottest trends in consumer electronics.
For those who already have a reliable laptop a netbook is like owning a vacation home - it is more supplemental than necessary. If, however, you are in the market for something portable for you or staff, a netbook may well be the way to go.
Does your ability to work on the road require you to read and compose emails, surf the web, write, edit or otherwise manage documents(spreadsheet, powerpoint, word etc.), view photos and perhaps watch an online movie? This makes a netbook ideal for you and your bottom line as these tasks don't require huge amounts of processing power and resources present in many modern laptops.

What are you getting?
Netbooks come in two main screen sizes, 8.9 inches and 10.2 inches (average laptop screen is about 14 inches) with the 10.2 likely to become the standard. They have wireless, full office suite(word documents, presentation, spreadsheet) web browser, email client (Outlook etc.) and are made by many of the big names, Lenovo(IBM), Dell, Acer, Asus.

How to choose a netbook.
Play, test, and play some more. Because of their size, I strongly suggest that you go to a store, if at all possible and try the various models to see what "feels" right to you. Your first consideration will be the keyboard. The keyboard will be anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of the standard keyboard size, with 80 percent being an unworkable size for those with hands that are even slightly larger than average. Also many netbooks aren't made in the U.S and may employ some strange key positioning, another reason to test and play at the store. The second consideration is screen size, if your work is restricted to the occasional email conversation and doesn't require a lot of time in front of the screen the smaller 8.9 inch form factor would be adequate. Should your work require that you spend considerable time staring at the screen, I recommend that you go with the 10.2. Battery life rounds out the big three in terms of consideration. Most netbooks have enough battery life for about 2 hours of continuous use and could last an 8 hour day with intermittent use. Should you need prolonged use consider purchasing an external battery.

Other Considerations.
Another good reason to test in store is that many netbooks come with an Operating System other than Windows. These alternate Operating Systems while highly functional work differently than you may be accustomed to.
Note also that netbooks tend to not have CD/DVD drives but have enough connections for using your ThumbDrive(USB Stick, Jump Drive).
Netbooks are a great value and for a few hundred dollars you can be on your way to being more productive while mobile or away from the office.

Here are the reviews of two (2) sub $500.00 netbooks.
HP Mini 1000

Samsung NC10 Pictured at top.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

4 Tech Breakthroughs that affect you.

In all the gloom and doom that has hit every industry including tech, you might have missed some important developments and advances that will in 2009 become a bigger part of your vocabulary. I believe that the following technologies have the potential to make the work we love more efficient and fun.

4. Flash Memory

Many mp3 players and other devices have flash drives. These drives are responsible for the ability of your iPod, digital camera to be thin and light. Tech giants like Intel are now working to make flash drives more widespread in business systems. Big name support is great for this technology - as this will drive widespread adoption and thus lower prices. Otherwise known as solid state drives, flash memory offers faster response and lower power requirements than conventional hard disk drives.

3. USB 3.0
Expected out in the middle of 2009, this currently ubiquitous standard for data transfer will get a speed bump of about 10 times. It will also get an increase in the amount of electrical current that can be delivered through the USB cable. You will now have less reason to carry around multiple chargers and will be able to charge more devices directly from your computer. Also, the charge time will be shortened.

2. Flexible Displays
Imagine a thin paperlike display that you can fold or have sewn onto a pocket of your favorite shirt. While this sounds like science fiction, you may be using it sooner than you think. Researchers and engineers from the U.S. Army, Arizona State University, Hewlett Packard (HP) and other startups have all made various breakthroughs that bring this closer to plausible reality.

1. Android (Google Phone)
Google Inc. may one day rule the world. An important step along the way will be the release of Google Android, the search giant's entrance into the mobile phone market. Android is the software (Operating System) that will provide the functionality - touchscreen, contacts, dialing etc to the so called "gPhone" . Android is free, i.e ordinary Joe and Motorola have equal access to its use without having to pay royalty. has has a growing developer community and at least six phone manufactures are planning to release Android phones next year (2009). While this won't supplant iPhone as number one for a while, look for many more carriers besides AT&T to have this offering.


About This Blog

Your Technology should not be a hindrance. It should enable you to do your work and get out of the way. Follow along as I give tips to help you better understand and interact with your technology.

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