Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spammity Spam, Wonderful Spam!

Taking its name from the 1970 Monty Python sketch "Spam", Spam has become the term used for unsolicited messages, in this case email, text and now even iCal invites. In simple terms it's Internet junk mail.

Nobody likes Spam, so let's talk about best practices on how to deal with it.

  1. Don't give away your email address to just anyone - When either completing an online form or even giving your email address to a sales rep over the phone make sure you "opt-out of marketing". Why not set up a junk email address just for online offers etc, that way you can just delete all email (including spam) to that email account.
  2. Don't click the links - or interact with the spammers in any way. By responding your telling the spammers that theirs someone there and then you'll probably never get rid of them! Just delete the message and move on...
  3. What about those new pesky iCal invites? Be on the look out for spam calendar invitations for $19.99 Ray Ban sunglasses. THIS IS SPAM! I found this handy blog post which explains how to deal with it (This affects Mac or iPhone/iPad users only). http://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/258424/spam-icloud-calendar-invitation
  4. Unsubscribe - If the email is from a genuine (honest) source then simply clicking the "Unsubscribe" link at the top or bottom of the email should remove you from their mailing list, BUT... Be warned you may just be confirming to the spammer you exist and end up with even more junk. The best advice is to be vigilant, slow down and think... is this a genuine sender you've heard of before, in which case go ahead unsubscribe, if it looks dodgy then just delete and move on...
  5. Antispam - This is a tricky one, because sometimes anti spam software can stop you receiving genuine email confusing it with "Junk", so it's a case of fine tuning the software to get the right balance. This brings me neatly on to my final bullet... Black & White Lists...
  6. Black & White Lists - Some email service providers who have Anti-spam built in use Black Lists and White Lists to decide whether an email is genuine and should be sent to the mailbox. A Black List is a list of Bad (or Black) email addresses that should always be blocked, while (yes you guessed it) A White List is a list of Good (or White) email addresses that should always be sent on to the mailbox. ISP's (Internet Service Providers) that provide Anti-Spam usually have some sort of portal or control panel you can log into to add to your Black or White lists manually.

...and now for something completely different!

  • Egg and bacon
  • Egg, sausage and bacon
  • Egg and Spam
  • Egg, bacon and Spam
  • Egg, bacon, sausage and Spam
  • Spam, bacon, sausage and Spam
  • Spam, egg, Spam, Spam, bacon and Spam
  • Spam, Spam, Spam, egg and Spam
  • Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam
  • Lobster Thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâtébrandy and a fried egg on top, and Spam.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Play Nicely... Let's Talk Ecosystems

Ecosystems in terms of tech are the services which a company (i.e. Apple or Microsoft) offer to make its tech work nicely together. Apple has iCloud and Microsoft has the Microsoft Account & Office 365, and let's not forget Linux flavour "Ubuntu" with its own online service.

It goes without saying that its in that company's interest to promote brand loyalty through its ecosystem but it pays to commit. As you can see from the diagram below Apple, Microsoft & Google have worked very hard to build their own respective ecosystems.

It could be said that trying to get one piece of tech to work with another alternative brand can feel a little like trying to put a square peg in a round hole, BUT when that tech is designed to work together life becomes much simpler! With the right eco system you can start thinking in terms of cloud-centric as opposed to computer-centric, for example when an email comes in multiple devices ping all at the same time and you just go for the closest device... Simples!

See also my post on Cloud Computing

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Keyboard Shortcuts (will totally change your life!)

Keyboard shortcuts often appear daunting to many users and difficult to remember. BUT... Persevere! The effort in learning just a few simple keyboard shortcuts will totally change your life! (well ok... just a little bit... but it's still worth it).

To keep thing simple in this post we'll talk about just Windows and Mac keyboard shortcuts (we'll leave linux to the geeks!) Most simple (2 key) shortcuts use a combination of either ctrl (control) + "Key" for Windows or  (command) + "Key" for Mac, i.e. ctrl+c for "Copy" on Windows or +v for "Paste" on a Mac. Some more complex keyboard shortcuts use combinations of 3 or even 4 keys, but don't let this put you off as your fingers will soon get used to where to go on the keyboard.

Ok... Let's put what we've learnt in to practice with a really easy shortcut... "Print" Open any small file email, webpage or letter etc, then with that windows selected hold down the ctrl key, and then with that key still held down hit the letter "p" and then release both keys. Now you should see the "Print" dialogue appear on your screen... Pat yourself on the back you just did your first keyboard shortcut! 😊 (for Mac users just replace ctrl with  .)

Now that wasn't too bad was it! Here are links to both Windows and Mac keyboard shortcut sheets, get stuck in and have fun!

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts | Mac Keyboard Shortcuts   💬Don't forget to ctrl+p or +p when you open the linked PDF's.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

What is Cloud Computing?

For many years user data has been computer-centric, a major floor with this approach is that is that if the computers' hard drive fails without a backup you're up the proverbial creek without a paddle as the data is lost with the hard drive. A second issue with computer-centric data storage is that it can be tricky to access your data when not at your computer.

Cloud computing solves these and many other issues by storing data online (in the cloud) affording access to data securely and in sync across multiple devices. All your data, everywhere, all the time.

How cloud computing works

Is iCloud Cloud Computing? Technically yes... iCloud is a cloud service provided by Apple, iCloud offers a variety of services in the cloud such as Mail, File Storage, Calendar, Contacts to name just a few. Other cloud service include One-drive, Dropbox, Box and Google Docs.

Here's how Wikipedia describes cloud computing: Cloud computing is a type of Internet-based computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., computer networks, servers, storage, applications and services),[1][2] which can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort. Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and enterprises with various capabilities to store and process their data in third-party data centers[3] that may be located far from the user–ranging in distance from across a city to across the world. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Do I need fibre? ...and what is it?

Fibre Broadband is a high speed broadband service connecting you to the Internet. The much higher upload and download speeds of a Fibre Internet Connection affords the use of HD online streaming of TV and Movies allowing you to watch what you want, when you want. If you have a family all fighting for a broadband connection and you're encountering buffering the Fibre would most certainly alleviate this.

According to Wikipedia Fibre is a broadband service with an underlying network is fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which uses optical fibre for all except the final few hundred metres to the consumer, and delivers claimed download speeds of "up to 76 Mbit/s" and upload speeds of "up to 19 Mbit/s" depending on package selected.[1] The fibre terminates in a new roadside cabinet containing a DSLAM, from where the final connection to the customer uses VDSL2 technology.

Another advantage of Fibre Broadband is that most Software manufacturers such as Microsoft and Apple have now moved away from physical methods of distribution such as CD's and DVD's and have adopted downloads instead. As a VERY rough example Apple's new OS macOS Sierra would take over 2 hours to download over standard broadband, the same download over fibre would take around 15 minutes!

Ok I'm interested in Fibre Broadband but who should I buy from?

I usually recommend BT Infinity to my customers but in the interest of fairness to other providers here's a link to broadbandchoices.co.uk