Category archive: Computers

Original photo by Chris Makarsky - Creative Commons ShareAlike license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Customer Service and Security: What Not to Do

I recently signed up for a financial service so I could pay my awesome editor and writing coach, Matthew Sweet. Matthew is in the UK, but I’m in the US, and while it should be easy to pay someone on a different continent, it actually isn’t. The simplest ways incur huge fees, major delays, or both. I’d love to just pay him via Square, but they don’t currently support global payments.So we’re trying out a different service. One we’d never heard of before. One whose sole purpose is to facilitate international payments while keeping fees down. Sounds great!

We both created accounts and the company collected our bank account information. There were no glaring security issues. Pages and links were encrypted. And since I didn’t feel like trying to break into a financial service’s website, there was no way to tell what was going on in the back end.

A few days later I received an email from the company. They told me that my bank account didn’t match the name I’d provided, and asked again for the name and address on the account.

As I read the email I noticed that the page collecting the information was served over HTTP, not HTTPS. It wasn’t encrypted. I then checked the link the form would be submitted to. That was also not encrypted. This meant that the form could be tampered with before I saw it, and that the information I supplied could be eavesdropped upon and tampered with.

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How to Safely Update Your Apple Devices

The release of iOS 10 didn’t exactly go smoothly.

Many iOS users found their devices bricked – after installing the update they were stuck asking to be connected to iTunes. iTunes would only replace the OS, wiping out all data on the device – and even that wouldn’t succeed.

If you only use an iPhone for phone calls and don’t use a lot of apps or media with it then you can probably skip this and throw caution to the wind. Otherwise it helps to be aware of best update practices and what they can and can’t protect you from.

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Public Domain image from https://pixabay.com/en/tree-solitary-landscape-umbria-189852/

Please Don’t Get Off My Lawn: Abundance, Scarcity and Problem Solving

This isn’t a “get off my lawn you kids!” story. If anything, it’s the opposite.

During my early days in the computer industry we lived in a severely resource constrained world.

The old days: scarcity

I learned to program in 1978 on a TRS-80 – a computer with a 1.77MHz 8 bit CPU and 4KB of RAM. Just imagine trying to do anything in 4KB of RAM today. Imagine trying to get anything done with less than 2 million instructions per second. And for persistent storage… it wasn’t just that it was small and slow, it was a cassette tape and you were lucky if you could even read back your program at all.

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Y U DO THIS, ITUNES?

me: “I will buy this video from iTunes”

iTunes: “Cool! Want me to download it now?”

me: “No”

iTunes: “Cool! Hey look, I’m downloading it for you anyway!”

me: “Facepalm”

 

Y U NO DO WHAT U SAY ITUNES?

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