Time to ditch Microsoft Security Essentials / Windows Defender

For two years running, MSSE has performed worst in Dennis Technology Lab’s anti-virus tests. This year, it achieved a detection rate of 68%. This compares to the next worst performer, Panda Free Antivirus which scored 90%.

The best free performer was Avast! Free Antivirus with 98%, followed by AVG with 93%.

While MSSE is better than none at all, it is our advice to install a better antivirus. Contact Adam on 01646 602248 if you need help with this.

The “look down generation”

Technology is a wonderful thing. To be able to video chat to your family 1000s of miles away; to be able to find and then order an obscure book and download have the hard copy the next day or a Kindle version within seconds is incredible.

Some things are not so good about technology. Kids who walk into you because they are looking down at their phones. Going to concerts and can’t see the band because of 100s of phones in the air in front of you. Texting your kids to come down for dinner (or worse, taking the dinner into “the den” because they are in the middle of an “important quest” on their game.) Parties where 80% of people are on their mobiles instead of talking, flirting, drinking, dancing..

..and generally, technology drives people into communicating in a virtual way instead of talking face to face.

So, it bring people who are 1000s of miles away closer together, but pushes people who live in the same house (or town or village) further apart.

Facebook addiction

Facebook addiction – as much a problem for older users as the young’uns

…but I’m not letting the older generations off either! All the people who talk to each other on Facebook. Married couples who says “I love you” etc etc, when there are much more personal ways they could do it!

I think addiction to technology even includes the health risks of other more recognised addictions….. neck, back and wrist stain, not to mention obesity, increased risk of heart problems through lack of exercise and so on.

We need to stop glorifying technology and this obession with the latest gadget and start to think of it as a tool, and how practical is it to do a job, just like a spade or a hammer.

Some companies have a “no internal phonecall” day. Perhaps at home, we should allow ourselves a “non-technology” day, where we turn off our phones/computers for the whole day. Could you do this?

Firefox security warning

The safest way to bank online is not an app…

In general, Apple and Android tablets are safer to use on the Internet than Windows or Apple Mac computers. This is because only software from the Apple or Android stores can be installed. All apps in these stores are vetted and checked for malware. With a Windows or Mac computer, software from anywhere can be installed either by the user or by an exploit on a website. This dramatically reduces the risk of malware (trojans, viruses etc) but doesn’t stop phishing (conning the user into divulging sensitive info like passwords, dates of birthday, mother’s maiden names etc)

In January 2014, a (very technical) report was published which showed big security holes in banking apps for the iOS (iPad, iPhone etc.)

A genuine secure page for a bank will be digitally signed from a trusted source – however, a malicious person can create self-signed pages too. If you visit those pages with a regular browser, like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari; you get a warning but with 40% of the apps tested, there was no warning. So you could be typing your user name and password into a fake page. Then, the owner of the page could use those details for their own ends.

So, the best solution is to use the browser on the tablet, and if you get a warning, get the hell out of there!

Webb Computers, Tenby

Sadly, it appears that Webb Computers has ceased trading. Their webpage is down and the shop has gone. I have found no official statement, they just appear to have gone. One of their former customers, who came to me with a computer problem, says they are not answering the phone. It is sad to see a reputable Pembrokeshire firm close down. People in Tenby and Saundersfoot now have to travel much further for IT support.

Indian cold callers claiming to be from Microsoft at it again!

They appear to target an area for a while before moving on, claiming to be  from microsoft and that you have errors on your computer and that they will fix it. At least one case I know, they put a password lock on the computer to stop the person logging on and then demanded £400. This is an article I wrote on 2010

https://pcrescue.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/latest-phone-scam-asian-cold-caller-trying-to-take-over-my-pc/

BT – “Your current operating system is not supported” message

make BT your homepage

make BT your homepage

Just had a customer call me with this odd message. She is using a fresh clean install of Windows 7 with all the updates. It happened when she visited BT.com and clicked the “make BT.com my homepage” button.

Given that Windows 7 is by far the most popular operating system on desktop and laptop computers, it was somewhat surprising that BT don’t support the majority of their customers who use proper computers. When I searched the web, it appears to be a problem with Internet Explorer 11. You can click the compatibility button in IE11 to get round the issue, or you can make it your homepage (the usual way) by clicking the gear icon at the top right, and clicking Internet Options at the bottom of the menu.

But why, oh why do BT have to use a misleading, and incorrect term, when they should say “unsupported browser.”

your current operating system is not supported

your current operating system is not supported

Moral of the story, don’t use BT…. use gmail, livemail, or something independent of your broadband provider. There is no law that says you have to use BT mail just because they provide your broadband.

Which Broadband Provider?

When people ask me to recommend a broadband provider (usually after a terrible experience with BT, TalkTalk or my most hated XLN Telecom, I refer them to the one I use now, Zen Internet. Many people won’t have heard of them, but they are PC Pro magazine and Which’s award winners of 2014. http://www.pcpro.co.uk/computing/1000049/the-pc-pro-excellence-awards-2014#BestBroadband

They have a UK call centre, they give a fixed IP as standard, useful if you need remote access to say, a CCTV system. They also don’t block ports or do “traffic shaping” – which is where certain traffic is “deprioritised” in favour of another type of traffic. For example, they could give video downloads a slower speed than say, Skype, which can be annoying if you are trying to watch BBC iPlayer. I found ANY type of online video was impossible with XLN Telecom. They told me it wasn’t needed for a “business service”, ignoring the fact that businesses use video, or that small businesses like mine are home-based.

Zen Internet also offer one month contracts, so you can easily get out if you want to.

I get no commission from Zen, I’m just happy to recommend them. Their website is https://www.zen.co.uk/

Fibre Optic Broadband / BT Infinity myths debunked

With BT Openreach digging up roads all over Pembrokeshire (and the UK), let’s examine some of the “sales speak” of the misleading adverts.

Fibre Optic broadband is faster than copper

False, at least in all practical purposes.
Firstly, the fibre optic cables only go as far as the street cabinets, and from the street cabinets to homes is using copper cables.
Secondly, copper is capable of speeds of at least 10 gigabit, i.e 10,000 Meg. BT Infinity is currently running at 80 Meg.
Thirdly, the maximum speed of both copper and fibre optic cables is far quicker than computer hard drives (even solid state) can operate, so any extra speed is irrelevant.

So what IS special about fibre optic?

The key advantage of fibre optic over copper is the preservation of data. Signal to noise ratio of copper degrades over distance, so for traditional broadband, the maximum practical range is around 5.5km from the exchange. With fibre optic, the range is, in practical terms, unlimited.

So, it’s better for people who live a long way from the exchange, who struggle with slow speeds.

Should I get fibre optic broadband?

If you watch a lot of TV online, eg BBC iPlayer, on a single computer/internet enabled TV, and you get good regular broadband speeds, then you don’t need fibre optic. BBC iPlayer HD is streamed at 2800kbps (or 2.73Mbps) so any speed comfortably in excess of this should suffice.

You can check your speed at the BT Wholesale page

Little Milford Foray

We had an excellent foray on Sunday organised by John Steer of the Wildlife Trust. At least 22 species were found and mostof these identified.

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