Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ)- where the UK spooks provide signals intelligence to the UK’s government, military and Military Intelligence and the Department for Digital, Media and Sport (DCMS) carried out their first UK Cyber Survey and the results didn’t make for great reading.
42% of us Brits expect to lose money to on-line fraud
23.2 million worldwide victims of cyber breaches used 123456 as their password
15% say they know how to properly protect themselves from harmful on-line activity
33% rely on friends and family for help with their cyber security
Young people are the most likely to be cyber aware, privacy concious and careful of the details they share on-line
61% of internet users check Social Media daily, 21% say they never look at it
More than 50% use the same password for their email that they use elsewhere
Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director said “Using hard-to-guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend combining three random but memorable words. Be creative and use words memorable to you, so people can’t guess your password.” whilst Margot James, DMCS Minister said “We shouldn’t make their (cyber criminals) lives easy so choosing a strong and separate password for your email account is a great practical step. “
Most Regularly Used Passwords
It’s a shame that the top password list hasn’t really changed for at least 10 years – it shows how complacent a lot of us are with our on-line security.
I used to have 3 passwords, a simple one that I used really casually for newspaper sign-ups etc – name123 (not my real passwords, merely examples) a medium security one that I used on shopping sites, n@m3123 and a more secure one, used for banking etc – c3ler0n! (and all of the ones that I used feature on the Have I Been Pwned list).
About 5 or more years ago I switched to a Password Manager. I have 801 log-ins and 801 different passwords. All of them are at least 16 random characters long and comprise upper & lower case letters, numbers and symbols (where permitted).
My Password database is stored securely in the cloud and is replicated on my PC, Phone and Tablet and accessible from my Chromebook too. I use LastPass but others exist and here’s a review of some of the top ones.
As you can see, I do my best to stay on top of my security but if you feel adrift, or need some help, just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email email@example.com for a free chat.
In July 2014 I bought a new laptop. It wasn’t a Windows device, nor an Apple Macbook- it was a Chromebook.
Having been a business/power user of Windows since the mid-90s it was a major leap. Although it was less of a leap than it might seem because I still kept my main PC in the office for most of my work, my laptop being used for working away from the office, making presentations, delivering coaching and use at home.
So, as the end of 2018 approaches, and my Chromebook is 4.5 years old – how has it been?
Real life with a Chromebook
Well, 1st off, it’s the longest time I’ve ever kept a laptop.
From a software perspective, it’s totally up to date, still receiving automatic updates from Google central and, what’s more, unlike every one of my previous Windows laptops, performance has not fallen off.
I can still open more than 10 tabs in my browser without any slowing down. I can access all of the Google Docs suite for word-processing, spreadsheeting and presenting, I can use Office 365 in the cloud for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint, still read the news, play a few games and do whatever I need to do.
The only thing that has slipped is battery life. I reckon it’s down to about 4.5 to 5 hours now so I cant go a full day any more. However, that’s a battery issue, endemic to all devices and a simple battery swap would soon restore the status quo
Do I need a new laptop yet?
Would I like a new laptop?
Of course, I’m a techie and a geek and we thrive on new stuff but it’s not a priority.
When it comes to a change, what would I do?
Now, that’s a tough question. I still use Windows in the office and still have a need to work when out and about so nothing has changed in that respect. There are many more lightweight Windows laptops around with long battery lives but to get any decent performance the price is still too high. Way beyond any value that I would obtain so, when it’s time it’ll be another Chromebook although I would go for one with a higher resolution screen. And that’s it – that’s all that I’d ask for.
And if you need any help with technology, websites, SEO or marketing all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call on 01793 238020 or send firstname.lastname@example.org an email for a free, zero obligation chat about your needs.
Earlier this year I wrote about Google Chromebooks, as a possible replacement for a Windows Laptop because I was looking to replace my 3 year old Toshiba Satellite that was getting older, slower and reaching the end of its useful life.
I was wary of leaving the comfort and familiarity of Windows behind, having spent a lot of my working life using various releases of Windows and numerous editions of Office and so I dithered. I loved the Chromebook concept but was unsure how it would integrate with my daily workload of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, email and web browsing, I even found a Windows laptop that was almost identical in size to a Chromebook, the Toshiba NB10.
On the left is my 5.6lb/2.54kg Toshiba Satellite, in the middle is the 3.3lbs/1.3kg Toshiba NB10 and on the right is the 2.9lbs/1.3kg Dell Chromebook 11.
The Toshiba that I was looking to replace had a 15.6″ screen whilst the other two have 11.6″ screens although the resolution is identical at 1366 x 768 so I’d actually see the same amount of information – just reduced in size.
In an earlier post you can see that I finally made a decision, based on much research, and chose a Dell Chromebook.
What’s to like It’s very compact and lightweight, takes 7 seconds to boot from scratch and wakes from sleep almost immediately.
Battery life is exceptional, I’ve had more than 8 hours from a single charge – which means that I no longer have to carry a heavy power supply, further reducing the weight and clutter that I tend to carry with me.
The screen is a great compromise between portability and easy working and is good enough for day to day productivity and watching catch-up TV or films in downtime. Sound through the built in speakers is surprisingly loud and good quality and the keyboard is great.
Google Apps provides a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool to replace Microsoft Office and they’re pretty good. However, with an internet connection, you can use Office 365, a cut down version of MS Office that runs in the cloud. If you still want to use Office on a desktop or Windows/Mac laptop then a monthly £9.99 subscription to Office 365 gives you 5 user licenses, unlimited web access AND 1Tb of cloud storage which is a perfect solution for smaller businesses and even home users.
Yes, the Chromebook works best with an internet connection but there have been remarkably few times in the past 12 months where I’ve worked anywhere where there hasn’t been a Wi-Fi service or 3G/4G availability and that’s where my personal Wi-Fi hotspot comes in to play. I have a Huawei E5776 Mi-Fi device that connects to 4 and 3G networks and shares the connection with up to 5 devices. Connectivity solved.
I had to buy an HDMI to VGA adapter, my USB hub worked fine, my USB memory sticks worked as designed and my Kensington USB PowerPoint slide changer worked perfectly. I really don’t know why I worried so much,
I can even connect it to one of my monitors and use a wireless keyboard and mouse if I want to use it in my office. Bluetooth 4.0 provides connectivity to a wide range of Bluetooth accessories, including headsets, speakers and phones.
What’s not to like Not much really – email handling is not as efficient as I had grown used to. There’s no Outlook type application where I can bring email from 3 accounts into one place, which I thought was going to pose a problem but all of my email accounts offer webmail, and that actually works far better that I thought it would, I just have to look in 3 tabs rather than one application so it’s more of an inconvenience rather than a real obstacle.
So, there you are, a lightweight, compact, powerful laptop that’s great for business computing on the move and at a desk and all for around £200.00
Stuff you ought to be aware of. Of course, the above only relates to the way that I work, and for me a Chromebook is working out well. However, we all work in different ways so it’s important to point out some of the other things about Chromebooks when compared to Windows and Mac laptops.
Tiny Hard Drives, in these days of 1Tb hard drives, the 16Gb or 32Gb hard drive in a Chromebook may be an issue. Of course, you can use USB keys, external hard-drives and Cloud storage to mitigate this to a degree but, if storage is necessary, and you don’t want to use external hard-drives or the cloud then I recommend that you look elsewhere.
Optical drives, there isn’t one but this isn’t unique to Chromebooks. Manufacturers are dropping optical drives in Macs and Windows machines to lower prices, reduce size and keep weight down and there are always external USB CD/DVD drives that you can use.
Business Apps. Unless your business apps are available on-line you won’t be able to use Sage or QuickBooks or heavy weight design apps such as AutoCAD and Adobe Photoshop.
Encryption. For those who are more security focused, encryption might be a problem although your connection to cloud storage will be encrypted and because minimal data is normally stored on Chromebooks this may be less of an issue than it seems.
USB devices, you should check that your USB devices such as Sat Navs, audio adaptors etc. work.
Big Brother. And finally, if you believe that Google is the modern day incarnation of Big Brother, you have to be happy that it will know a lot more about your work than you might like it to.
So, Chromebooks may not be for everybody but then, neither is Windows/Mac/Linux. The key to success, as with all computing, is to understand your needs and make your selection based on those rather than simply rushing to adopt the latest gadget or fad.
That’s the way that I approached this and it looks as if it’s paid off, for me anyway.
When preparing presentations, writing blog posts or editing websites I need to edit photographs and other images.
However, I don’t need to do the whole Photoshop thing, normally it’s a case of cropping, resizing, compressing and occasionally working with the colour balance, brightness or contrast to give some of the pictures a bit of a lift, and for that, a Chromebook is more than adequate.
It’s not unlike editing pictures on a tablet or phone, tools such as Pixlr Photo Editor and Pixlr Touch Up can deal with pretty much every basic image/photo editing requirement.
You can see a screen grab from Photo Editor on the right and it compares very favourably with my favourite Windows editor, the free www.getpaint.net, which offers simple photo editing on Windows computers.
if i need to be more creative or actually originate an image then I’ll do it my PC where I can choose from Photoshop, Paintshop Pro and the excellent, and free, Gnu Image Manipulation Program, AKA the GIMP.
My trusty Toshiba laptop is coming up on 3 years old and is beginning to show its age. Like its owner, it’s heavy, getting slower with age and just looks too chunky.
I have been agonising over its replacement for a while. I was taken with Windows Ultrabooks, great performance, quality screen and fantastic battery life, up to 5 hours but less than engaged by their prices, from £700 up.
I’ve also been looking at the Chromebooks which are basically small laptops with 11.6″ screens, fantastic battery life and running Google’s Chrome operating system rather than Windows. I even wrote about Chromebooks in an earlier post.
Larger screen Chromebooks are now available and in in all cases battery life is as long as 9 hours, so all day computing without a charger is a realistic aim and they are impervious to viruses and other forms of malware.
Screen quality is perfectly acceptable but build quality, according to reviews, has been variable. However, since Xmas 2013 more and more manufactures have been releasing models using Intel processors for better performance, compared to the Samsung processors used in older Chromebooks, and manufacturers such as Toshiba and HP have released Chromebooks with larger screens, a 13″ from Toshiba and a 14″ from HP
However, I have been wary of the leap away from Windows and that has held me back, particularly after discovering a Toshiba of a very similar size to the 12″ Chromebooks, with a touch screen and Windows 8 for not a lot more money than a Chromebook, around £300 compared to the typical Chromebook price of £200 to £250.
So, I continued to sit on the fence.
Then Dell released their take on the Chromebook, an 11.6″ screen, excellent battery life, Intel dual core processor, light weight and, more importantly, 4Gb RAM.
With excellent reviews and a keen price, my mind was 90% made up. Then I spotted a great deal on eBay just as the Dell delivery date slipped from days to months, my decision was made and on Tuesday July 8th I picked up my ever so slightly used Dell Chromebook.
Do you find your laptop’s too big to carry with you and the battery life too short?
Is your tablet not quite large/comfortable enough for more than a little light document editing, email work and web browsing?
Did you know that there’s an alternative that might just bridge the gap, its device that took 2/3rds of laptop sales on Amazon during December 2013 and it’s called a Chromebook.
Chromebooks come in screen sizes of 11.6″, 13.3″ and 14″, currently manufactured by Acer, HP, Samsung and Toshiba and prices start from £199.00 inc.
They are light weight, [around 1kg] have Wi-Fi and a small number have 3G/4G connectivity.
Battery life is typically 6 hours although the HP 14″ boasts a battery life of up to 9.5 hours.
They run Google’s own operating system, Chrome OS, which means they boot up in around 7-8 seconds, don’t slow down over time â€“ unlike some computer operating systems we know – and are pretty much invulnerable to viruses and other malware that’s out in the wild.
Of course, there’s a drawback, you can’t install Microsoft Office, in fact you can’t install most software which limits you to software that’s either available in the Chrome Web Store or applications which run in your browser, because that’s pretty much what Chrome OS is, it’s Google’s Chrome browser that’s been tweaked to run a laptop. You can use Microsoft Office 365 though, because that’s a cut-down version of Office that runs in your browser so all is not lost.
It’s also best if you can be permanently connected to the internet, although a number of apps do run off-line but you can always buy one of the 3G versions, tether your ChromeBook to your mobile phone or use one of the Mi-Fi devices which create your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot that connects to the mobile phone network through 3G or 4G
So, if you want a lightweight laptop for email, document creation/editing, web browsing and a little light gaming perhaps you should give a Chromebook a try.