This is, as usual, so infuriating I want to scream. Another of Microsoft’s stealth marketing tactics. They asked bloggers to write a short blurb on what their slogan, ‘People-ready Business’, means to them. For a bit of money, of course. Hmm… what happened to these blurbs? Well, they ended up in banner ads. Of course. If you want then, Mr. Gates, here is my idea of what a people-ready business is. THE PEOPLE READY BUSINESS AND WHAT IT MEANS TO ME by J Rothwell In my experience, a people-ready business is a business that’s finally seen sense and thrown away its computers, and is now using a pen and paper. Alternatively it could be a business using Linux. Or Macs. Either way, it’s something other than Windows. So there. Bill, I take cheque, cash, and all major credit cards. I am happy to say that Apple has now updated Safari so older Athlon processors can run it. Well. Apple issued the update, but it wasn’t installed automatically. I had to give it a little kick start (read that as going into the Start menu, finding the Apple software updater and looking for the updates, telling it to download them, accepting the license agreement and waiting for it to install.) I am now typing this in Safari. And it’s sooooooooo fast you would not believe. It’s pretty, well thought-out, has some wonderful features and is exactly the sort of browser I need. True, it is a little buggy (this is the second time I’ve had to type this - when testing the bookmarks feature, it forgot the WordPress ‘write post’ page even existed) and rough around the edges, but I can see a great bit of software coming out of it at the end. And for once we have a browser that doesn’t pester you if it isn’t your system’s default Internet browser, media player, shell, teapot, etc. Impressive, especially by Apple’s standards. edit: oh no, I spoke too soon. Safari decided to remove all the line breaks from this post in the WYSIWYG editor, so I’m having to insert them in old fashioned, clunky HTML… Safari is still good though. Some people are so stupid with passwords, it would seem, that they might as well erect a sign outside their door saying “LOOK! BANK ACCOUNTS, ONLINE PROFILES, PRIVATE INFORMATION, ALL FOR FREE!” Malicious hackers know that a lot of computer users find it difficult to remember passwords, and will therefore choose something they won’t forget and will stick with for a long time. Easy passwords like ‘password’ or ‘open’ or ’security’ are a no-brainer, for both unsuspecting user and evil cracker. Equally unpreferable are ‘dictionary’ passwords, as in single words like ‘cabbage’. When picking a password, if you absolutely must make it a single word, pick up a dictionary (yes, the big heavy one) and look for it. Ideally you might also want to search the full Oxford English Dictionary if your library has a copy, or check on Wiktionary. If a dictionary password is used, all the cracker has to do is try all the words in the dictionary and he’s in. Obvious numbers are also a big no-no. Don’t use your date of birth, phone number or the box you won Deal or No Deal with. Neither should you use your username, and definitely don’t use a blank password. This allowed the British hacker Gary McKinnon to enter NASA’s systems and then make wild, ridiculous claims about UFOs and free energy. The best policy for generating passwords is to put something in at random, a combination of letters, numbers, and preferably some symbols like # ~ @ etc. It should be at least eight characters long, and changed at least every year, preferably every three months. And writing passwords down should be avoided whenever possible. If you need to write down your home password, then keep it under lock and key (eg in a safe). NEVER write down your business password. You may think I’m being a bit over-the-top in this, but it is incredibly important in these days when identity theft is widespread and as easy as rummaging around in someone’s bins. And I can’t imagine your boss being very happy if he finds out that a rival company employed someone to crack your weak password and steal a document called StrategiesForAdvantageAgainstCompetition.docx. Both identity theft and corporate espionage are big business and on the Internet, there are people who will do anything to make a few quid. Well, to be fair, it is beta software, but a bug all the same. Lots of bugs, in fact. The problem is with Apple’s Internet browser, Safari. It’s a great bit of software (better than Firefox in many respects) and I was delighted to hear that its latest beta is now available for Windows. (I don’t like using Windows but don’t have much choice as the WAN adapter won’t work with Linux and I can’t afford a Mac.) Imagine my shock, therefore, when Safari was not only slow, sluggish and buggy (as described on the Apple discussion forums) but failed to open at all! *dramatic Psycho music* Well, it didn’t completely fail to open. However, I did have one of those unwelcome encounters with Microsoft’s ‘we’re sorry for the inconvenience but your program crashed - please tell us and we’ll make it better, honest’ dialogue boxes. I didn’t send it to Microsoft. After browsing Apple’s discussion forums still further (in Firefox, as Safari wouldn’t get past displaying the toolbar) I found that Apple had actually forgotten to compile one of the drivers (?) for AMD processors. Oops… I did test Safari on a (Intel) Celeron machine earlier this afternoon, and it worked fine - until you tried to use the BBC website when it crashed completely. Oh dear. That’s beta software for you. I eagerly await the patch. Despite what the shop said, your optical mouse does need cleaning from time to time. If it isn’t cleaned, your mouse will get dust in its sensors in a way not dissimilar to how ball mice get dust stuck around their rollers. However, it’s not exactly the same, and when things go wrong, you’ll know it - if your cursor starts jumping around the screen at random, then there’s probably dust in your mouse. (The next bit involves boring technical explanations of how optical mice work, so those with an allergy to science lessons are advised to skip to the how-to at the bottom of this post.) Put simply, an optical mouse sends a beam of light down to the tracking surface, and then a sensor detects where the beam has been reflected. It then does some complicated stuff that you probably don’t care about to work out where the mouse is and how much it’s moved. It does this hundreds of times a second. If there is something in the way of the beam (like a fleck of dust or other debris) then the beam will reflect off that, therefore making the sensor think the tracking surface is in a wildly different place. This can make the mouse cursor jump around the screen seemingly at random. </boring stuff> The upside is that optical mice are equally as easy (if not easier) to clean than ball mice. All you’ll need is a cotton bud that would normally be used to clean out your ears (preferably unused). Now turn the mouse upside down. The light beam does illuminate the dust particles and debris so it shows up quite clearly. To clean the mouse, simply use the cotton bud to brush away the debris on the underside of the mouse. (sorry about the poor quality of this image) Just brush it away gently (don’t poke the cotton bud too far into the mouse or you’ll break the sensor and have to pay for a new mouse - electronics shopkeepers’ joy, but a minor inconvenience to the mouse-owner).
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