How-to: Understand ‘The Cloud’

How-to Understand the Cloud

“It’s in the Cloud…” The Cloud has become a go-to word in computing across all levels of users, even my septuagenarian neighbour, who doesn’t even own a computer.  Although she does have a smart phone and a smart TV. Trouble is ‘the Cloud’ is actually several types of cloud. Continue reading

Opinion: ‘The Cloud’ vs ‘The Fog’

'The Cloud' vs 'The Fog'

DropBox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive; Office 365; Zoho Office; AWS, Microsoft Azure… I could go on. That’s before we get to Social Media. You may have noticed everything these days is in ‘the Cloud.’

But what does that mean? Are you, like me, a Cloud-sceptic? Granted, I still play CD’s and DVD’s. An occasionally vinyl records. This ‘Cloud’ thing is far to ephemeral to be any use. Isn’t it?

The Internet of Things.
There is an actual ‘Fog.’ The Internet of Things; where every device is internet-enabled in a massive inter-woven fog of greater and smaller networks, with many more localised resources and the most mundane devices able to interconnect with super-computers, libraries, retail, social media. Suddenly H2G2‘s talking toaster becomes a reality. A mad bonkers reality, perhaps; maybe the toaster itself won’t talk but I bet it will be able to order bread, croissants, ‘sandwich thins’ (whatever they are) and lookup the optimal toasting time for Scandiwegian Humectant flatbread. Continue reading

How-to: Secure the Weakest Link behind the Keyboard – Part I

Image: Weakest link by unknownYou can have all have anti-virus software installed in Windows, UAC enabled, UEFI battening down the system boot, anti-malware and double firewalls; in theory, all your software should be perfectly secure. However, the weakest link in all computer security remains: the user.

You might think all was secure the day you un-boxed your machine; as Mr Cole Porter said, ain’t necessarily so. Continue reading

How-to: POP and IMAP Your E-mail

Mailbox Background by George HodanSmart-phones, netbooks, tablets; more devices on-line, more services to choose and set up. More technology, more terminology. More users who are coming to this for the first time. Surely it just works – doesn’t it?

E-mail, then. What’s the best way to ensure the best connectivity and the best mailing experience? Web-based? Server based? Cloud? Let’s cut through the confusion and cover the basics. E-mail comes to you via two methods: POP and IMAP.

If you have set up e-mail clients yourself, you will have certainly come across the terms POP and IMAP, without necessarily understanding what they are. Lets start with the definitions: Internet Message Access Protocol, and Post Office Protocol. A protocol is a set of rules and mechanisms by which something is achieved. Both POP and IMAP allow you to read emails locally using an intermediary program; you probably use some already Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, GNUMail, or  simply Apple Mail on Macintosh and iPad. Continue reading

Review: Dropbox Cloud Storage

Dropbox LogoThe Cloud back-up and storage market is getting crowded with new players offering ever more ludicrous amounts of free space, but we couldn’t run this series without looking at one of the established ‘brand names’; Dropbox is one of the most popular Cloud storage and file sharing programs and has built up quite a following in the last couple of years.

View from the Top
Dropbox is a reliable on-line data backup service that lets you access and share files from almost any computer or mobile device, using native clients or its’ web interface. It is one of the few truly platform-agnostic services, with client software for Windows, Mac and Linux; you’ll find a .deb package for the Dropbox client in the 11.10 Ubuntu Software Center for a painless, one-click install of a client we can happily report ‘just works.’ Add to that mobile clients for iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry and you can see the Dropbox bid for ubiquity across devices that gives it an appeal beyond its’ competitors. I’d have to say some of those mobile apps do look a little thin on functions, but that’s not unique to Dropbox.

From our corner, the current Linux client is a mature development over previous, ahem, ‘idiosyncratic’ versions, so now the free package of 2GB online storage with a high reliability desktop client, collaboration features and continuous development, is quite sufficient for home users starting out in the Cloud. By way of an incentive, Dropbox has an attractive referrals programme for increasing your initial free allocation from 2GB of free space up to a usable 8GB by referring friends. Continue reading

Review: Avast 7 Public Beta

Avast 7 Beta SecurityInternet security vendor Avast! recently released a public beta version of its 2012 software, Avast 7. You can download Avast Free, Avast Pro and Avast Internet Security from the official beta announcement thread in the Avast forum.  The free download runs to 94.8MB.

It comes with a brand new installer and although Avast notes that the beta versions can be installed over existing Avast 6 installations, forum users are having better luck un-installing versions 5 and 6 and putting on the Beta 7 to a clean system.

Choose the Express Installer and you get the Chrome browser without so much as a by your leave! How does a browser form a component of Avast?! Cheeky devils! The Beta also goes a bit over the top creating a Desktop icon, a desktop gadget and a notification icon in the Systray. No ignoring this one! Continue reading