JOURNEYS…

To avoid forgetting anything, I wrote up a list, each item in itself proving to be a journey. These journeys all connected with technology.  I needed a structure, something I could see, refer to, add to, (things kept slipping my mind…so much going on) and as each item was actioned, I wanted to see it marked up as ‘started’, or, scored through as ‘done’.

I deal with security updates as soon as I am alerted.  I also scan my system to see if I’m all up-to-date. I can mark that one as…….  Continuing task – done for now.

A friend seems to have disappeared off my radar.  An email I sent about a month ago has not been returned, I think this might be good; but, her home phone number no longer connects.  She was treated for a serious illness a few years ago.  An internet search brings up old information.  Inside, I am on an emotional roller coaster. I mark this search as ‘started’, (journey to be continued).

Ransom malware has caused major, major, seizures of computer data, disrupting  UK  Health Services and many business systems.  It’s a concerted worldwide attack.  Technology and security experts talk about maintaining the security and integrity of computer operating systems.  An important security patch was available from March.  What the circumstances may tell us is, that this is too complex an event to be resolved by a concrete answer. This is marked ‘Stay Aware’

Try as hard as I might, sending a money gift securely to a new baby,  living abroad,  has proved exasperating. There’s no obvious reason given to me from a list of possibilities suggested by the company.   Mum sends  new information.  But, the website continues to stop the transaction.  However, because the latest information is correct, the company can tell me that there is a security issue with the account to which I am trying to send the gift.  Keeping the link closed is protecting accounts from potentially being compromised, including mine.  Wow! Am I glad of that!  What a journey this one is.   Task marked ‘Started’     (… problematic).

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SO FAR:

So far:

We’ve had external storm damage to the house, a rogue storm that came through between Doris and Ewan; reparation work costing lots of money is weather dependent. We wait.

P1000459 A pair of Fulmars

My microwave failed two weeks before its manufacturers’  one year warranty expired.  Getting this unwieldy appliance to the service department is  a story in itself. It exhausted us. Upon discovering the failure was due to a known manufacturing fault, which included a range of appliances from a specific production line, all requiring modification, I asked for a new replacement.  It arrived this week.-1

Next,  my three and a half months old monitor crashed. A bit of problem solving, moving plugs into different sockets, brought the monitor back to life and it gave me a crash report. It was okay for a couple of days, then went blank several times in one morning, followed by what looked like the mother of all crashes. Problem solving didn’t work this time. While speaking to the Technical Help department a couple of hours later, telling the lady how dead the monitor was, the screen burst into life!

The conversation then went like this…… her“Monitors don’t give messages. it must something to do with your computing equipment”. 

I wished I’d taken a screen shot of the message.  More chatting  followed about the symptoms and pathology of the sick monitor…

her-  Could I try a different HDMI cable. (Everyone has a spare one of those…NOT!)  I have just the one available, the one that was supplied with the monitor. 

monitor-ok-iconBack to the store service department the monitor went. I couldn’t dismantle the base from the screen single-handed.  I ended up cradling the monitor in one arm and also carrying the box. The service department lady and I performed a tug-of-war and separated the bits so the monitor could be re-packed.

The really nice bit.…..without a mention of inconvenience, loss of computer use, or anything similar, I was offered the loan of a spare old monitor, with which to keep going. It was “doing nothing”, sitting on the shelf gathering dust.  An HDMI cable was located for me to use. I had not brought mine, but in any case it was agreed a test run with my own cable connected to their monitor would be useful. This way, I have HDMI cable back -up, should it be needed.

 

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

I was having a phone chat  with a very happy sounding lady called Kelly in the  telephone accounts department.  A couple of messages had attracted a surcharge as picture messages and I could not understand why. There was not a modicum of a picture in sight in either one, not even an emoticon.  I read the two messages to her and counted the digits in one of the them – fifty-five, (160 is the text limit).   Kelly just couldn’t understand it… I checked my settings, all okay there.

As I still had the messages and could account for what they were, she agreed a refund to my account, then added with a sigh;

I hate smart phones, they’re getting too smart for me!” 

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HACKED AND HACKED OFF

Recently, two companies that have widespread businesses, which hold enormous databases of customer information, managed by third parties, have had their information databases compromised, dare I say it, by hackers. The emails informing customers of this uncomfortable truth, though not the same, do have much the same terms of conciliation and flavour of apology. It might be difficult to vary too much, a straightforward every day style of vocabulary in a potentially worrying message. In both cases, access was, we are informed, solely to email addresses.

The first company carefully stated that payment and financial information had not been accessed or compromised in any way. There is no suggestion that there was anything more than an uncovering of email addresses with the latest problem. We may, the advisory email warns, receive unwanted emails.

The first company that sent notification to its customers about the breach of confidentiality, approximately a month ago, followed up with a reassuring email, assuring customers that there really was tight security with financial information and that it was held in a separate and different database storage facility.

The newest advice, so far, is only about access to email addresses. Both organisations named their database management company. Does naming the ‘culprit’ make it easier, I wonder, for the contractor to appear to be less responsible?

There are other questions worth raising. The suggestion is that our financial data is more secure. If that is so, why is it so? If a particularly high, or, more secure level of security is installed in one area of commerce, why is it deemed less necessary to offer the same level of security for customer personal contact data, which, should be of equal importance?

PLEASE, CAN ANYONE HELP?

Help please! Can anyone tell me how I can restore my Firefox browser to give me access to my gmail account without having to always go through ‘safe mode’ when firing up Firefox? It is a problem that arose just this week, when after a hard disk format (clearing out the whole previous history and everything else on the system) I downloaded Firefox 3.6 to my machine. It is the version I previously used together with Adblock Plus.

My laptop has the same version of Firefox and Adblock Plus, and there is no difficulty accessing my gmail with it on that machine. I use Applemac OSX etc. Snow Leopard on both machines.

No amount of re-loading, deleting off the system and downloading again – which I have done uncountable times – seems to resolve the problem.

Thanks

DESSERT COFFEE AND NO COMPUTERS!

The computer-age truly tests honest-to-goodness sanity, not to mention domestic harmony. There are far too many experts, the majority of whom are anything but… and they certainly are not, in the main, expert in the general utility of the tool. When you put your total faith in someone designated to be an expert, you can be in a precarious position. Indeed, you become vulnerable, and with it, so does your computer set-up.

All I wanted was assistance with migrating three systems folders to my computer. I guessed that a simple transfer by flash pen was not going to work. “You’re right,” I was told by one expert.

Total supplication from me to the expert… bad mistake; my nicely developing configuration was completely supplanted by everything from another machine, I had a clone, it was definitely not what I asked for or wanted. My keyboard suddenly stopped working. With expert number two, Saturday became a lost day. Monday, I did a system format and re-load with the aid of a third expert. The keyboard still did not work, but hey! I no longer had a cloned computer.

Four ‘experts’ later, I reached a dangerous overload of frustration. Having finally exploded, the department of experts field one of their senior experts. Senior! This gem of information, I shall not forget. Thirty minutes later, a major difficulty has been resolved, one that took days, including delivery of new parts, then new parts having to be returned by me. (I shall not mention the travel to our poorly managed Post Office and the queuing for a service point).

In the midst of all this fiery emotion, hubby avoids asking the in-house computer back-up service a big question. He asked it today. The big question remains unresolved for now, even though, I believe I know the answer; it’s not one, hubby will like too much.

Personal and domestic harmony is being re-established. Hubby invited me out to a lovely lunch, during which there was a silent pact not to mention anything relating to computers. Dessert and coffee never tasted better.

THE NEXT ‘MUST HAVE’.

I was talking to a family geek about the two phones, The Apple iphone kit and Google’s Android. It was said that there was in-built advertising on the one,the Apple. There was a certain naiveté, I felt, in suggesting that Google were not exploiting similar potential with their product.

A little bit of research revealed that Google had already got underlying ‘acceptable’ ads behind their system. I’m not sure who the ads are acceptable to. The Google underlying adverts would be installed with the same rationale as Apple has, a profit motivation. In this, all phone manufacturers and resellers are playing the same game. I guess I.T. organisations will be telling mankind that all marketing is good for the soul. Will it become the next ‘must have’, the next faith forum?

There’s a lot to be said for staying with a good old fashioned cell phone that just makes phone calls, if anyone can remember what they are. And for a bit of added excitement, a wee facility to send text messages would be useful, though not essential, since voice messaging is bound to be in the bundle.

IT’S THE DAWNING OF THE AGE OF…

There’s been too much domestic technology this week. Certain parts of the UK are slowly being brought into the digital age. We decided to cave in and get a new TV just in time for switch on. Do we need an external aerial? Maybe not; best to wait till the two switch over dates have passed and see what happens, we were told. Okay, they’re very soon. Meantime, I am wondering if the new technology warms up to the full bloom of colour, (it does seem to) or if it’s hunting for brilliance. The bobbing from horizontal to stretch limousine style pictures I can temporarily live with, since I don’t watch much on the box, (ooh I can’t say that now, it’s not a box)….. Darn, that’s another change.

Our new router is ever so easy to set up, said the salesman. Are they ever! Not if you have some old technology in the house which stubbornly refuses to acknowledge anything except through a lovely yellow cable. A specialist arrived tonight to unknot the blocks. To work, the router’s new age security level had to be reduced a bit, but then the equipment had to be set on a slightly different technology footing as well. Either that or buy another new computer…. too expensive, so no, not for now. An obscure setting was causing bother as well. Oh, and just for good measure, the system password had to be modified to match the restyled arrangements.

I’m not sure why my old printer isn’t talking to my programmes. It’s probably kicking up because it’s competing with a new one. I haven’t got my head round it yet. It’s still got plenty ink in the cartridge, (its mono so no colour worries there) and I intend to use up the ink before the printer – wobbly on its metaphoric legs but usable – bites the dust.

BUZZING OFF…

Going down virtual memory lane this morning, I happened on the website of my alma mater; or, to be less opaque, the place where I got my higher education qualification. I set up a subscription registration so I could access the site, my last one, whenever it was, had well and truly lapsed.

There’s been a lot going on since I saw the incarnation of the website umpteen moons ago. The presentation was snazzy, friendly, and all the links buzzed you off somewhere useful. That is, till I wanted to get into the PQ section. The little interpreter in my mind told me that ‘PQ’ was bound to mean ‘post qualification or post qualifying’. “Okay, that’s me“, I said to myself, so I clicked on the gateway. Why on earth, then, did I get a message telling me ‘PQ’ was a restricted area only for registered subscribers? 

I am a registered subscriber!