Overall, the iPad is a great device, but it is also a very closed device. There are no USB ports, no SD slots, and no serial ports. That last one might have caught you off guard. I am sure there a many people who can’t remember the last time they used a serial port. However, if you need to configure Cisco switches and router, you know why you need one. The cable that allows you to connect to the console port of a router plugs into a serial port. It was this task that I thought would prevent me from going laptop free for a long time. However, thanks to a company called Redpark I can now check this off my list of things that still cause me to travel with a laptop.
Redpark has recently announced the availability of a console cable that plugs into the iPad dock port (it also works with the iPhone and iPod touch). The cable cost about $70, but that isn’t all you’ll need. To actually access the configuration interface of a Cisco device, you will also need the Get Console app. It is available on the iTunes App store and costs $9.99. At first I thought they should just give the app away for free and charge $10 more for the cable. After looking closer, it looks like a different company makes the app, so just understand that the total cost is going to be around $80.
So, am I going to order one of these tonight? I don’t think so. Since there are still a few other things that force me to carry my laptop with me, I will just use it when I have to configure a Cisco device. But, it is nice to know that if I ever get to the point that this is the only thing keeping me from going laptop free, there is a solution.]]>
So, what is a parent to do? I would suggest enabling some type of content filtering on your home network. I had an opportunity to investigate a number of solutions and based on price and features I recommend OpenDNS. It is simple enough that most anyone with the most basic computer sills can enable it, and the basic home service is free.
OpenDNS offers two free services. The first is called Familyshield and is the easiest to setup. All you have to do is change the DNS address on your home router. Don’t worry, if this sound difficult, Open DNS offers step-by-step instructions on how to configure this on most of the popular home routers. While Familyshield is easy to configure, it also the most restrictive. There is really no customization – it just simply blocks all the sites that OpenDNS feels are inappropriate for children. This, of course, means that anyone using your PC is blocked from these sites including you.
The second free service they offer is called OpenDNS Basic. It is similar to Familyshield, but allows you to customize what type of sites are blocked. This service requires that you create an account. To create an account you only need to supply your email address, desired password, where you heard about OpenDNS, and where you plan to use it. After you create an account, you change the DNS address on your router just like you have to for FamilyShield and then go to the customize page. From there you can select one of the three predefined levels of filtering or create your own custom settings. Since OpenDNS Basic is tied to the IP address of your connection and most homes use a dynamically assigned IP address, you may want to install the Dynamic IP Updater that is available from OpenDNS.
The internet is a wonderful tool, but tools can be destructive. You owe it to your family to protect them. If you currently aren’t protecting them, start now by signing up for one of these services.]]>
So what happened? Why did those we trust with this personal information not safeguard it? I guess I would counter that and ask what did these companies do to earn our trust? Why are we so willing to hand over information so quickly nowadays? I think the answer is really pretty simple… we want to. That’s right, we want to give this information away. We must or we simply wouldn’t do it. And what do we get in return? Convenience. You don’t have to run around to five stores to find what you want, you just Google it and it shows up at your door. You might have even gotten free shipping. But, did you ever stop and ask what it really cost you? Well, to start with, your name, address, credit card number, the name of your first pet, and pretty much any other seemingly harmless information they may have asked. If all the data you ever entered online was compiled, you would be shocked as to how clear a picture of you and your habits it would paint.
So, just what am I saying? Should we go off the grid and become hermits? Well, that may be for some people, but not me. I guess what I am saying is that before we give information away, we should at least be conscious of the fact that it is our choice, and we doing it willingly. We also shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking anyone or company is going to be able to protect our information. In the end, everything comes with a price. The question is – how much of your privacy are you willing to pay for the convenience of the Internet?]]>
I do have to admit that whenever I post something to one of these services, I always wonder if I can be sure no one else is going to have access to it. Most of these services guarantee privacy and all that, but I am still a bit skeptical. A recent change to Dropbox’s security terms of service makes me even more skeptical. The announcement itself is not ground breaking, but it brings to light that they have the ability to access anything you upload to your Dropbox. The statement simply says that they will comply with law enforcement and, if required to do so, will decrypt user files and hand them over to law enforcement. Basically they were just saying that they will obey the law. But this makes it clear that while your data is encrypted, they have the ability to decrypt it. Before this announcement, some people were under the belief that the files could not be unencrypted by anyone but the user of the account.
So, what does this mean? Should you stop using online storage? I would say no, but understand that anything you do, say, or store on the Internet could possibly be accessed in ways you never intended.]]>
The software is called Creepy and it can extract the geolocation information that is included with most types of mobile posts to social sites. Alla person has to do is enter their handle (user name) and if they have made mobile posts, others will be able to see where you were and when you were there.
The program was not created to be used by stalkers, but rather to try to bring to light that every time you are online you leave a breadcrumb of trails. Often that trail says nothing more than you like buying collectible coasters on ebay or you are really into turtle egg soup. But this trail is an actual trail of your daily whereabouts.
There are other sites like pleaserobme.com which previously used Twitter updates to show how many people unwittingly were telling the world they weren’t home. Pleaserobme.com has since stopped posting this information as they feel they have proved their point and don’t feel anything can be gained by continuing to do this. But since Creepy is a program someone can install on their own, turning it off isn’t so easy. Now that the software is out in the wild, there is no way to control how it is used or who uses it.
So, how do you protect yourself from falling victim to this? Well, the most logical way is not to post to social websites when you are on the road. However, if you feel you must, you could try a few of the following tips:
Be inconsistent with your post. Don’t post the same time from the same place everyday. This will prevent someone from learning your patterns.
Don’t post when you are alone.
Don’t state how long you will be somewhere
If possible, remote into your home PC and post from there. This way your real geolocation information won’t be attached to the post.
In the end, the most important thing is to know that you can be tracked and act accordingly. It is better to always act as if you are being watched because maybe you are.]]>
But what about those times when you are on the road and as soon as you power down your PC you think of one more thing you need to look up on the Internet or realize you forgot to send an email? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could boot your PC in less than 30 seconds and take care of that quick task? Well, today I found a way to do that. There is an OS called Splashtop that can be run co-resident on a Windows PC. Once installed, you have the option to boot Windows or Splashtop. My PC boots Windows in around three minutes, but with Splashtop it boots in just under 30 seconds. Spalshtop is what one might call a web OS. Once booted the only interface a user has access to is a web browser. At first this seems very limiting, but it really isn’t. For many users the majority of what they use their PC for is done within a browser. Just think about it, email, Facebook, YouTube, and, of course, web surfing. Splashtop also supports web apps that can be found in the Chrome app store, which allows even more functionality to be added.
While Splashtop won’t replace your Windows OS, it will certainly come in handy when you need to quickly boot your PC or maybe make a nice alternative for that relative that is always calling you because they loaded something on their PC that they shouldn’t have (yes Mom, I am talking about you).]]>
So what went wrong? Why didn’t it work out? It reminds me of a quote I heard once, “It is impossible for an individual to consistently act in a way that is inconsistent with ones nature.” Cisco’s nature is networking. That is what they do, and they do it well. Be it IP, voice, video or storage networks, networks is where Cisco excels. This is why the Linksys acquisition made sense and the Flip did not. Another thing that caused the Flip to lose some of its appeal is that nowadays many phones can record video at 720p. Who wants to carry around two devices if they don’t have to?
Another product that Cisco launched that I didn’t quite see how it would be successful is the UMI. The UMI is a high definition video conferencing solution aimed at the home market. The cost is around $600 per unit plus a monthly fee for each location. I just didn’t see these landing in many living rooms. Well, they haven’t abandoned this product, but they did move it to their Cisco Business TelePresence product line and will be marketing it as an enterprise product instead of a home product.
To be honest, these decisions make me feel good. It looks like Cisco is getting back to doing what they do best, networking.]]>
There are a number of things that could be done with this information which range from minor annoyances to major pain for the customer. For example, the addresses could be used to send spam or, more likely, phishing schemes.
So know the question is, how can you protect yourself now that your data may be in the hands of individuals that maye have less than honorable intentions? Here are list of dos and don’t when it comes to email.
DON’T open email that you have any suspicion may not be legitimate. If it is legitimate and the individual trying to contact you really needs to, they will try another means.
DON’T open attachments that you were not expecting. Especially ZIP files and NEVER run exe files.
DON’T use your company email address for personal things.
DON’T ever send credit card or other sensitive information via email.
DO call a company that you received a suspicious email from to see if it is legitimate but DO NOT use the phone contained in the email. Check a recent statement from the company to get an legitimate phone number.
DO use a separate email account for things like shopping online. It’s easy enough to get a gmail account. You could go as far as to register your own domain and use a different email address for each account you sign up for. This allows you to see what account is creating the spam and terminate it.
DO use a webmail client (such as gmail.com) as they are more resistant to some types of self replicating spam. Mobile devices such as iOS based (iPhone, iPod and iPads), and Android are also less susceptible to these forms of spam.
DO use common sense. If it looks like spam and it smells like spam, then it probably is.]]>