Covid Days – New Ways

This new post after 2 years of silence has been spurred by the massive and unpredictable scale of changes that were forced into our world by SARS-Covid-2.

The drive to immediately isolate our bodies from all others except those in our living spaces has brought with it the massive utilisation of technologies that we might have used or at least known of, but never could we en masse imagine ourselves in the home & work places that many of us are now in.

My business was designed & constructed by me in January 2011 with a specific set of operating modes which I saw as fairly unique,at that time. I set out to close the gaps between the knowledge & systems used by technologists, and the general public / small/medium businesses understanding of them. My bridging the gap by ‘being there’ with them at their premises, shoulder to shoulder as we jointly worked through their worries, hopes, aspirations and technological breakdowns was effective!

But for now this has to change, and I believe that no matter what changes to the threat from bio-organisms both now and in the future arise, a wariness in people of personal risk has or will become a factor that I have to think about. We may have to face that previous ways of working may begin to recede as new ways of working emerge.

So how will I adapt to this without losing too much of my working style?

I can and already have, worked on customer systems (PC/Laptops/Mobile Phones/Pads using remote control software in concert with a phone call. This works well and because it saves me travelling to the customer I have given it a lower hourly rate. Where this has not been possible because of a malfunctioning device or broadband/WiFi connection, I have asked the customer to thoroughly clean the device of finger grease deposits and then to bio-clean it with a 10% hypochlorite (bleach) solution or 66% alcohol solution before I collect it. Before I return it it is again bio-cleaned. This has worked well so far.

But the personal bit where I sit beside them is missing … this is for the purposes of tuition and/or for where I fix a problem while showing them how I do it, and so prevent it reoccurring through a lack of awareness of the cause(s). For this I offer the use of the video or audio messaging feature that is built into the remote control software. Viola!

The only missing service was where I visited to investigate faults to telephone internal extension cabling and the BT master terminal. Though I am happy to advise you on the steps to take through video link and, if you wish will speak to your ISP Support Desk engineers on your behalf to help to speed up the resolution time the fault takes.

Looking ahead what more might I do?

One idea I am exploring is to offer online mentoring for small groups of people where I demonstrate how to understand what concepts and technologies are by definition from some of the frequently asked questions I get. This way a low cost per person could be achieved and I would be paid a fair rate for all the time and effort to produce the materials. This is a work in development so if you have ideas you would like included in it then please do email them to me.

Well that’s it for now,

Please stay safe and well!

Greg Dance

For more regular updates and newsy snippets, see my facebook feed – @pctechniquesstroud 

Quick Bytes – News Breakings

Welcome to the Spring edition of QBN.

Our weather (a dull and cold) continues to give reasons to scan the sky and ponder if it ever was like this when we were kids! I say not.

This edition has a lot in it and in several cases this came to us as features in recent news. Concerns about the fragility of personal privacy and democracy are very real now.

On a brighter note I have been spending more time with Mac’s and have diversified my services to include them, you’ll soon see why …


Mac’s and Malware

Recently and in the space of only 10 days I found ‘MacKeeper’ malware on 3 Mac PC’s. Yes its time to protect your Mac!

One in particular case had an awkward outcome after its malware infection was cleared using Malwarebytes, it no longer booted! This caused me to seek guidance from Apple Support and from this I learned that their preferred anti-malware app at this time is MalwareBytes for Mac. Since then I have also heard that BitDefender can be very effective. So if your Mac needs a matching umbrella …

Mac’s, unlike Windows 10 have no annoying personalised adverts that menace the eyes from flashing tiles every time you view the desktop. But I’m not impressed with the way they heavily price new devices that then have less, or even no USB ports!

Clearly their hardware design division needs a good flushing out, down the drain into the Microsoft Windows 10 design bin!


Recycling – Binned!

Q. When is your data that you deleted to the Recycle Bin gone for ever?

A. When you empty the Recycle Bin? – Nope! It could be recovered using one of many utilities that scan the disk for the files and if they are still recoverable, it can restore them, OK so far but not if you are using a new type Solid State Drive instead of an old style spinning platten disk.

SSD’s are brilliant in the main. They are much faster than old style hard drives so everything from booting up to scanning is done in a comparatively short snap! They don’t break if you bump them when they are on because they dont have any moving parts to crash together.They use less power so batteries last longer in portables.

But – when you delete a file from the Recycle Bin – its gone and I mean irretrievably due to a feature known as ‘trim’ which you cannot switch off. Geeks go here

Imaging a scenario where you have deleted a folder or files and in the back of your mind they are not out of reach yet because they are recycled. Then you discover that for some reason you want to clear some junk off your disk, maybe to make space for the next bloated Windows 10 ‘Creators Update’ (which is 8Gb in size and can be too big for some notebooks so they get left behind!)

To do this you run a utility like CCleaner or the Windows Disk Cleanup or similar which clears a lot of junk out, which is great except it usually clears the Recycling Bin also by default, in which were those files or folders that you then want to retrieve. Gone!

I could mention that you could use Stroud Cloud for your backups from where they could be retrieved, but I’m sure you already knew that 🙂 www.stroud-cloud.co.uk


GDPR – Here it comes, we have until May 25th to be ready!

Previously I have written of this approaching change in my December 2107 edition which is fast approaching and will become enforceable on 25th May (1 month from now)

So looking at this introduction document now would give you a good idea of your part in this play. My impression so far is that for most of us small biz folk this is a mostly procedural tax on your time and effort so that if you are ever asked, you could prove that you have documented your responses to requests for conformity & assured your customers that you have done it.

You will need to have proceduralised how you would deal with requests concerning your holding of data on them. OK so job done if you have done that?

Not quite! You will also need to be securely storing personal data to prevent breaches of your systems which might allow a ‘slitherin’ low-life to steal it! Otherwise you will have to report the breach and then answer a blizzard of enquiries and maybe pay a heafty fine!

So preparation is essential!

No more exclamation marks now as I move on to …………………


Microsoft Windows 7 – The Redmond gang are still not wishing to become popular, so are proving how well they can avoid that accolade by withholding new security updates from Windows 7 machines if you don’t have an antivirus installed.

Windows 7 will continue receiving updates until at least January 14th 2020 so its not caused by deprecation.  So if your Windows 7 has stopped updating you would need to either use the built in Anti Virus (Defender) or install an one that’s approved by them. If you need to explore this more an HTG account of it is here


(Not so) Smart TV’s

A good article here from HTG on why buying a ‘smart TV’ is not a smart thing at all and how it can make you a victim in several ways.


Do we still mention Facebook in polite conversations any more?

 

A reputation, once proud and sleek has hit an inevitable pride-berg and sunk!

And a shadowy cohort of suited assasins of democracy have emerged from London and an unknown outback town of Canada (Canadian data firm Aggregate IQ (AIQ) ). This bunch of slithering fly by nights boasted of their exploits of breaking the UK out of the EU Channel 4 News story here, and in Cambridge Analytica’s case, getting Trump elected!

The complete story line on the undermining of our democracies can be found here, and to me makes political thriller fiction look needing by comparison!

I expect that by now you will have either deleted your Facebook accounts or at least tightened down your privacy settings and deleted all those nonsensical spying apps lurking in your profile. How to Remove Third-Party Facebook Apps From Your Account

Do be cautious of other social media platforms privacy settings also, and of course the biggest and longest established privacy vacuum of them all, Google and its colourful Chrome browser and indiscrete Android smart-ware!

Google is feverishly trying to get its GDPR act together before 25th May and lets face it it has a very long way to go after a decade of doing exactly the opposite. An email I received from them describes a new User Deletion Tool to be rolled out by them soon, which I hope doesn’t act like its poorly worded title!

Its no longer thinkable to wander through the web and expect it to be a stroll in Finnsbury Park on a sunny Sunday in summer. Better to prepare for a winter expedition into Narnia when the witch has a hangover!

How to Check If Cambridge Analytica Has Your Facebook Info

Just head to this page and you’ll see a box labeled “Was My Information Shared?”

Finally for now, Zuckerberg has admitted that a ‘handful’ of other companies like Cambridge Analytica have also been ‘harvesting’ data from his platform, so we can only wonder which will be the most shocking news story as time rolls on … Facebook’s data or Trumps war!


Mozilla to the rescue again! – a new Firefox extension can be isolate Facebook from other sites inside your browser, it certainly needs locking in somewhere (so might Zuckerberg).

And these are other free Firefox extensions that can help you keep privacy safe across the wider web outside of Facebook and Google.

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Boost your digital fitness with a data cleanse

Mozilla and friends have put up this website so that you be taken on a journey of discovering where all your data went and how you can get it back. A Data Detox is the first important step closely followed by greater awareness.


Well, I think that is quite enough from me for now so I will sign off and wish you all a better summer than some of our so called ‘Leaders’ might wish for us.

Keep safe!

Greg