IF it ain't broke......
.....Don't fix it. That is the old saying. However; when technology is involved, sometimes you have to move on and let things go. Such is the case with Windows XP, one of the most widely used operating systems in the history of windows environs.
Windows XP support is actually a thing of the past, and has been for some time, as far as Microsoft is concerned, yet it holds a good third of the market.
This link is only one example of many surveys done and can easily be researched by simply looking up windows XP market on a search engine. So what does this mean? Well, it basically means Microsoft came up with a system that people liked, worked well, and has done a fine job of withstanding the test of time. Unfortunately, even the best products get old. How many people still have a console television, or even a CRT monitor? Not many I would wager. LCD screens have replaced the old CRT tecnology and become mainstream. While projection screens and CRT's still perform their duties, they can't hold up to the newer tech that is out there. So it goes with XP, and the hardware it is running on (usually).
This isn't to say that you should toss your XP and go get a shiny new 300.00 windows 8 PC. The market has changed so much in the past few years that options are now beyond simply a desktop. Here's a few suggestions:
- Don't simply buy the cheapo PC at walmart: you'll hate it
- Updating your PC from XP to anything is going to be bad. BACK UP YOUR FILES!!!
- Do some research online. You'll find refurbished windows 7 PC's for cheap.
- I don't recommend windows 8 yet. Let's see if Microsoft realizes people hate it.
- Windows 7 is solid, runs like XP, and is still supported by Microsoft. Good choice
- Vista will soon be out... Don't use it unless you have to.
- I don't like Apple, but now may be a good time to switch.....
- Laptops and tablets are good choices for simple internet browsing and email.
- Do NOT put off updating your system. XP is seriously vunerable to attack
- And finally, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me here
What is all this java fuss?
Well, Let's start with what java is, other than a slang term for coffee. Many moons ago, a company called Sun Microsystems created a programming language meant to be used for the good of all computers. It was developed to work on any type of computer no matter what type of platform (this term means the operating system, like Windows, or Apple's OSx, or the many flavors of Linux) it was using. This meant programmers could develop a program in java, and it would run on any system, which, would be a very, VERY, good thing. Kind of like being able to speak any language at all at any time to anyone and be understood, except with computers. That was the concept of Java.
Taking that a step further..... The internet also has an interface we use called a browser. Typically, you will see the big three (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple uses Opera). Java has its own special way of talking to those as well. There are Scriptlets (small coding sentences if you will), applets( tiny programs), and plug-ins (which means java inserts itself into the browser, well, much like you would plug in your vacuum cleaner). Hopefully, I haven't lost anyone at this point. *Deep Breath*
So we have a utility that was orininally intended to allow programmers to write happy little programs for the world to use on any computer anywhere, even on the Internet. It was handled by a company called Sun(now defunct) bought out by Oracle (huge corporation). Over the years the source of that utility has been not properly maintained and is not secure, leaving it open to the baddies, who are taking advantage of the fact that everyone actually uses it for what it was intentionally designed for. "Patching" (AKA putting a bandaid on a .45 caliber gun wound) is the process of fixing the security problems as they are discovered; when in fact, the source needs to be either rewritten or dumped completely in favor of new ideas(HTML5, but that is another article). So the only real fix is not to use it at all, putting the typical user in a complete tailspin, being as many sites (including travel,banking, ad nauseum) still use Java.
So what to do? Well.... as a tech, I turn it off and on as needed. Or I use two different browsers, one with Java, one without. My first major suggestion is.... do NOT use Internet Explorer, even the newer versions. I have had multiple clients have new issues that were completely new and unheard of since both the explorer hack and the java exploit. Secondly, I would suggest following the posts from this link. It will disable Java, but safe is better than sorry. Finally, should you choose not to disable Java, keep in mind that your personal data may be at risk. I would suggest NOT using credit cards online, and if you feel the need to do so, only on sites you REALLY trust. I'll be honest.... personally, I think the risks to the typical person are minimal.... BUT... there is a risk. I would hate to have a call from you saying you were a victim!
Windows 8: Not the windows you grew up with.
This article will start with a review of a laptop that can be accessed by clicking on this sentence. The reason? Simply put, Windows 8 was designed with the concept of using a touch screen to operate. While you can in fact get (and will most likely be required to) Windows 8 on new computers without touch screens, it becomes quite difficult to operate.
By now, most people are aware of computers and at least of the basic functionality involved. As such, Windows has been the de facto standard on typical PC's as an Operating System (the user interface you see when you turn on your PC), or OS for short. Remember a few years ago when Microsoft went from Windows XP (XP is the version of windows) to Windows Vista (again, Vista is the version) ? People everywhere couldn't find simple items such as where their computer icon was, the downloads folder, and many other objects that were common. Windows 8 takes that to the next level.
By no means am I saying Windows shouldn't update and keep up with the trends and times. What I am saying is that their system is used by so many people, extreme changes are not going to work. They should have learned their lesson the first time. I cannot and will not recommend Windows 8 to the typical client I support. If my clients must learn a new system to use, it may as well be Ubuntu, or some other form of linux, as it is free, supported by a never ending community, and will run on current systems without "driver issues" or unneeded programming.
To conclude, I am of the humble opinion that Windows and Microsoft are on their way out of the personal PC market, much like IBM has done in the past. Technology changes quickly, and while I understand the need to keep up, you can't leave the masses behind.
Java's "Briar Patch"
I'm going to try and explain, with the help of this article link, why even with the new patch there are still concerns about Java as a security issue. Without going into technical details and complexities, it's quite difficult, but I'll do the best I can.
The initial problem was that Java allowed bad people to load bad code without you knowing it directly into your PC using a technique called "watering hole". Much like a predator stalking a lake or pond for it's prey, sites with high traffic would be monitored and "fed" bad code focused on the"hole" in java. Since this code could be ran silently, without your permission, it was a major flaw in security. Going to Java's home page will allow you to get the latest version, fixing this issue.
However; as in the previous article, Java has been around a while, and was created by Sun Microsystems, a now defunct company bought out by Oracle. Java was "open source", meaning that anyone that knew anything about programming could in fact tinker with it's innards. Open source is a double edge sword. It allows for some of the best and fastest programming in the world, unlimited expansion, and an unbelievable support system based upon nothing but other users. All free. Its downside is, bad people are bad. That is basically what is happening here with Java. It needs to be re-written from the ground up and it's source code closed, allowing a programming structure to access it. Until that happens, Java will remain unsafe.
So, this patch will fix the current issue in a nutshell, but it won't close other "loopholes". That is the bottom line, and what everyone is trying to say in the long and short of it. You'll have to decide for yourself if it is worth the risk. In all honesty ask yourself what are you doing with your PC. Are you filing taxes? Online Banking? Shopping Online? Storing any type of Credit Card info? Personal Details? Anything on your Computer you wouldn't want the world to see or have access to? If you answered yes to any of those questions...... Java might be risky. I can't even give you odds, but I can say it will increase your chances of picking up malware or viruses and is certainly a risk.
Java fix due october this year?
Ok, Oracle... let's be honest.... do you really think you can get away with touting a product as the cross platform savior, end all, be all, programming language, and then when it needs a fix say, "Meh, we will get to it eventually?". Bad business is bad business. You may be an industry giant, but it doesn't mean people won't notice.
This isn't Oracle's first episode of bad behavior. Read here, then here, and so forth... So how then, is a corporate structure that is in constant turmoil still in business? Because, like Microsoft, their major product line works. In the big data Market, Oracle holds a whopping 44.7% share. That my friends, is darn near a stranglehold. Oracle doesn't have to do anything but manage database products. Everything else is icing on the cake.
Back to Java. Once upon a time, there was a company called Sun Microsystems. Sun actually developed and created Java as an open source platform for the good of mankind. Along came the Oracle and ate up the Sun, and darkness ensued for the open source world. The end.
Not a happy fairy tale in the tech world is it? Pretty much, it comes back to this article. As far as this small company is concerned.... Shame on you Oracle, for dumping on the little guy. I can't believe as a corporation you would stoop so low. There are millions of defenseless users out there with no clue of what's coming next, and you can't be bothered to simply fix a product you became responsible for. This SHOULD be illegal.
What might be the outcome?
In watching this battle unfold, it seems like Apple is trying to make itself independent of its main Competition, Samsung. Is this the way to do it? Will Apple actually pull itself loose from the ties to Samsung and its chipsets? Only time will tell.
Here are the problems in the forseeable future. Firstly, Samsung is one of the premiere technology chipset design leads in the world today, especially in the cutting edge market. Cutting ties with them, and doing it in a burning bridges sort of way, isn't going to leave Apple in a good position. It's a high risk on their part, in my humble opinion. If they pull it off, and can keep costs down, then Apple becomes a superpower in their own right; if not...... well.... Apple owners might need to start using their iphones as paperweights.
The point I am trying to make here is this: it's extremely early in the "game" at this point, and whatever is going to happen, it is certainly obivious that Apple has decided it wants to be independent. I've never been much of a fan of Apple to begin with, (except for the fact that the were smart enough NOT to use 64k paging for memory), but I do understand why depending on your competition for your product would be unsavory. It is my belief that lawsuits and petty squabbles probably are not the most feasable way to break ties with them. Maybe Apple should look to more pleasant ways to end a relationship, and speak with Dr. Phil or Oprah.
Westboro Baptist Plans on picketing the Conn deaths?
So how, may you ask, does this tie into technology? Well, supposedly, anonymous , the now infamous hacker group, released the following info. I personally do not know how valid it is, and am only reporting the news as I have found it, but feel free to use today's technology as you see fit.
The hackivist group Anonymous has been so kind as to leak the personal contact information of Westboro Church members. With a special thanks to Vets Against the WBC.
I hope the holidays finds everyone well. In that frame of mind, I am writing this article in hopes of helping you choose wisely in shopping for PC or laptops, but electronics as a whole.
First of all, you get what you pay for. While "name brands" aren't what they used to be, buying off brand isn't a safe bet. Odds are, if you haven't heard of them, it's a risk I wouldn't take. Secondly, in the PC world, lower cost usually equals cheaper components. While this doesn't mean it can't be functional, it does mean you aren't going to be able to play the latest games, have wonderful video speeds, or even multitask within windows well. Also, if you do find yourself buying a lower priced PC or laptop, BUY THE EXTENDED WARRANTY. I cannot tell you how many calls I have recieved 6 months or a year after purchase where a hard drive has failed and there is a $200.00 charge to my client. The warranty is much cheaper. With any electroincs purchase, the warranty is worth it. Better to protect your investment than take the risk.
When looking at PC's and laptops, there are many choices to make. In a nutshell, you want either AMD quad core or higher, or Intel i5 series or better. I would suggest no less than 8 gig of Ram, but 4 gig should suffice in a pinch. Desktops should NOT have onboard video; they require a video card. Nothing less than a raedon 6670 or Nvidia's GeForce GTS 450 should be accepted. If you don't know. Ask. If they don't know, you're in the wrong store. Go somewhere they do. Never buy electronics from someone who doesn't know or understand them.
The final piece to the puzzle is, what I have described here in general is that you're going to find a laptop with the specs I just mentioned isn't going to be $300.00. It will probably be more into the $600.00 to $1000.00 range, depending on where you are shopping. (sorry, but it is true) Same with the desktop. While you can still purchase the $300.00 dollar model, browse the internet, check your email, process word documents, and play on facebook, you'll be happier with the better model. Happy Shopping!
As you have seen, we have been quiet for quite some time. Daily life can be a chore. Oh well. Back to reality. There has been much todo about tablets, smart phones, apple, android, and other equipment recently. What to do for those caught in a technical time warp?
Don't panic! A technical "geek" recently wrote an article you can read from the link here . Most "typical" computer users don't know keyboard shortcuts, nor do they care to use them. Windows "point and click" interface did away with the need for that years ago. This isn't really the problem. What it does refer to is that while hardware has slowed much, software has not. Leaps and bounds have been made in the way we do things on the PC and with electronics in general. 90% of people now have a hard time switching from their flip phone to a "smart" one. Upgrading from windows xp to windows 7 is like stepping into an ailen world. God forbid you switch to an apple product from windows, or vise versa....
Windows 8 is a mistake. Plain and simple. The concept is to take the home PC into a place it does not belong: the app market already captured by tablets and smartphones. These items are not going to replace the desktop; rather, they will complement it. Instead of creating an OS that should have taken advantage of sync and cloud storage, or better yet, a more solid state configuration and on the go mindset, Microsoft chose to try and bully its way into a market that is already won.
It is with this in mind that FTC is going to offer in the new year Unbuntu alternatives to its customers. Stay tuned to the website and Facebook for details.
The above story talks about yesterday's attack on the Godaddy server sites. Allegedly, millions of websites were down for up to four hours. Let's start by loosely defining a hacker.
Hacker (term), a term used in computing for several types of person
- Hacker (computer security) someone who accesses a computer system by circumventing its security system
- Hacker (hobbyist), who makes innovative customizations or combinations of retail electronic and computer equipment
- Hacker (programmer subculture), who shares an anti-authoritarian approach to software development now associated with the free software movement
Again, this is a loose definition. While I don't agree that "hacking" companies like Godaddy are a good thing, there are certain points that are being made about the saftey and security of the world wide web. This story for example, shows that Godaddy needs to have better security measures in place to protect its users. As a long time tech, I understand that much like locks on doors, security is for honest people. Anyone that really wants to bypass your lockscan; either by brute force, or by more subtle means. So it goes in the electronic world. For every method of security, there is a counter. It is nearly impossible to provide a failsafe method of protecting data on the web.
My personal opinion about "hacktivist" groups like ananymous is this. I applaud the fact that they are talented and mostly non harmful. I would prefer that instead of dropping sites and punishing the end user however, that they warn the company they attack first, allowing them time to correct the issue. The concept of a "show of power" has already been accomplished. It's time for them to move on to correcting the issue, instead of exploiting it.
Yes My Friends... Apple's incessant whining has won them a truthfully minute victory. Google and the Andriod system can no longer use universal search features on the Andriod platform. The only reason i am writing this article at all is to explain what this means. The home screen search bar now only returns results from Google search, without searching through apps, contacts, and emails among other data.
So how does that affect typical end users? Really it doesn't. So cheers Apple, for making yourself look like snobbish idiots... yet again.