China And Green Tech

July 2nd, 2016

This was a very interesting video that I came across recently regarding the green tech boom and China’s role in how it is cleaning up it’s act.  It’s very interesting to see what they’re doing over there in terms of tech implementation.


Solving Security Dilemmas

July 2nd, 2016

It’s interesting to look back on the history of computer viruses as they relate to computers themselves.  The early computer viruses were very interesting and simplistic, however they were a major scourge right away.  Malicious code run rogue.  In an attempt to understand the past history of computer viruses we like to look at different articles discussing the viruses as they were created.

People didn’t know that they had to rely on antivirus and antimalware software – that software was still new.  Things like spyware didn’t even exist, it wasn’t until later that this type of software came into fruition.

However it’s interesting to look at the history of how the fight against computer viruses went down.

It takes only until page 15 for the authors to question the ability of the existing computer security establishment to deal with viruses. They make it easy, in the text that follows, to infer that preventing or curing most computer viruses requires the help of a professional Virus Buster–one from the Computer Virus Industry Association, perhaps. In the chapter on virus prevention products, the authors protest at least enough that they hesitated to include a review of McAfee’s own product. In the end, they tell us, they decided to publish the “impartial assessment” of a member of the National Bulletin Board Society (which McAfee founded).

The book contains some genuinely interesting information. Its two-page checklist of antiviral practices, for example, is complete and concise. But the effect of the useful material is frequently spoiled, not just by the occasional trace of biased reporting, but by an irritating repetitious style of writing and a wide variety of apparent errors, contradictions, and paradoxes. Among these:

* In chapter three, a diagram and associated tect clearly imply that computer viruses can be spread through the sharing of data files, and that a microcomputer virus can spread to a mainframe and damage data stored there. This error will annoy those who know better, and will confuse others when, later in the book, the authors state correctly that neither of these things can happen.

* The worm that was released upon the TCP/IP Internet in November 1988 (as we are told three times in three pages, each time as if it were the first) is consistently referred to as the “InterNet virus.” The incorrect internal capital could have been avoided by checking the literature. And while there is ample room for disagreement about the proper biological analogy for any computer disease, the computing establishment had agreed six months before this book went to press that the November Internet infection was not a virus, but a worm. The authors may have known this and disagreed, but if so they made no case of their own.

McAfee and Haynes express a surprising attitude toward computer “hackers,” devotees of computing often characterized as obsessive. They draw a distinction between benign hackers, stalwarts of modern computer programming, and those whose motives are more malignant and who produce most of the world’s computer viruses. This much makes sense. The malignant type, who “regard [McAfee] as a worthy adversary,” are cited as frequenting computer bulletin boards, boasting of their latest intrusions into supposedly secure systems. It is these same bulletin boards, we are told, that are the source of many virulent, contagious strains of virus. Readers are clearly warned to keep their computers isolated from hackers, and to expect infection should they run any program found on a bulletin board. Eight pages after this warning comes the surprise. McAfee’s own software company, we are told, contracts with programmers, sight-unseen, over computer bulletin boards, and incorporates their code into its own commercial software products. This speaks well of McAfee’s regard for his own ability to detect viruses and, perhaps, to judge character electronically. It doesn’t say much for his heeding his own advice.

Despite promises early in the book that it is not written for those with deep technical skills, the 20 pages of chapter nine (ten percent of the text between prologue and appendix) consist mostly of commented assembly code, representing portions of two computer viruses. Without deep technical skills, the reader will get absolutely nothing from this chapter. The authors insist that these programs have been altered so as not to function as written. Still, the wisdom of providing samples of virus code to anyone is questionable.

The subtitle promises that the book will tell the reader how to defend a “PC, Mac, or mainframe” against viruses, etc. But the discussion of virus mechanics and the chapter on protection products deal almost exclusively with IBM PCs and clones running the MS-DOS operating system. A single Macintosh protection product gets less than a page, and mainframe protection products are omitted entirely.

In most matters, the tone of this book is authoritative. Facts and figures are stated freely. But the authoritative tone is hollow. Of twenty-three references to books, periodicals, and other documents, only four citations include author, title, date, and publisher. The rest contain less information. Nary a one includes page numbers. The majority of factual information is not referenced at all. Chapter two contains an “analysis” of costs of the Internet worm. It provides a full page of figures, and cites a total cost to the computing community of $98,253,260. (Note that the cost is calculated to the nearest $10.) Not a reference is cited, nor is a method of estimation. Criticism on this score, at least, is not new to McAfee. Deloitte Haskins & Sells, in mid-1989, published Computer Viruses, the proceedings of their October 1988 symposium on the topic. In it (page 20) Donn B. Parker of SRI International states: “The Computer Virus Industry Association estimates (without any supporting facts) that more than 250,000 microcomputer users have had their microcomputer memories wiped out by variations of the ‘Pakistani Brain’ virus alone.””

Sheehan, Mark. “Computer Viruses, Worms, Data Diddlers, Killer Programs, and Other Threats to Your System: What They Are, How They Work, and How to Defend Your PC, Mac, or Mainframe.” Online Jan. 1990: 76+

Dealing With PC Data Loss

May 5th, 2015

slowcomputerData is extremely important and valuable, and losing it can be a catastrophe.  Case in point: when Windows gets damaged or corrupted by a virus or malware infection and is rendered useless.  When you can’t even use Windows in order to get your data off the computer in the first place.  Something like this happened to me and I was kicking myself that I didn’t have a backup or restore image on hand.  Most people don’t – you really have to be OCD about doing backups, and let’s face it: most of us are not.  We’re lazy!

So what can be done?  Well, there’s always the fresh installation – wipe out Windows and reinstall the operating system and start from scratch.  While this is an attractive option because you get to start with a lightning fast installation, it’s sometimes not an option at all because you can’t delete your data that you still have on the computer hard drives.

In this case you could take your computer to an expert and have them extract the data or try to help fix the operating system.  But sometimes this is just not an option either due to time constraints or simply cost – it can cost a lot of money to bring your PC into a tech.

So what else can you do?  Well, there is the option of using Reimage PC Repair, a proprietary and extremely helpful software tool that can help you to repair a Windows installation on the fly.  This is extremely helpful when you have no options left.  I’ve used this program before when I was boxed into this corner, and it was a savior.  I was able to repair Windows and finish my project without losing all my data.  In terms of saving the day this program is ace.

It’s been well reviewed by a lot of online publications.  It’s unfortunate that many websites are calling Reimage malware and I can’t understand that – it’s a legitimate program.  Sure you have to pay for it, but I’m sorry Joe not everything in life is free.  They give you a free download of the software so you can scan your system, but if you want to do the repairs yes I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but you have to pay for the software.

Other than Reimage there are not that many computer programs out there that can really help you with this sort of problem.  Reimage won’t help you with specific third party software, however, or fix your broken hard drive if it’s physically busted.  But Reimage will repair broken and corrupted Windows system files and get your computer back up and running.  It certainly helped me and it can definitely help you too.  I suggest trying to download it to see if it works and to see if it can detect the particular problems that you’re having.

Remember to back up your files, folks and until next time I hope you have a great computer day :) Adios amigos!

Keeping Business Computers Up And Running

November 25th, 2013

53.Free-Computer-ProtectionKeeping an e-business running is hard enough without having to deal with endless computer issues.  One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that your fleet of computers is adequately backed up as well as protected from online threats such as spyware and malware.  There are a lot of options out there to do both of these things, so what can you honestly expect to do?  Thankfully there are a lot of resources out there that can help you to make an informed decision on business protection plans as well as backup services.

One of the biggest questions I get asked is whether or not to use cloud-based backup solutions.  I like to use a mix of both.  It’s almost impossible to get fast enough internet service to reliably back up large files to the cloud all the time.  So if you’re working in a media-heavy environment such as with video and high resolution photos, backing up to the cloud all the time may not be your best bet.  However if your data load is smaller it could be a good thing.  I like to use a mix of both:  cloud based backups for smaller files and smaller batches of files, and local media for the larger backups and images.

As far as virus and malware protection, there are a few things that you can look for.  One is a good quality product.  There are several good ones out there that you probably already know the names of: Norton, McAfee, etc.  But there are other good companies making software that you might not have heard of such as Enigma Software and ParetoLogic.  These companies do a great job of keeping you up to date with the latest protection as well as giving your system a much needed tuneup.

Some popular sites that we like to reference when looking for information:

Steven Cahill
No More Sad Computer

PC Magazine

Did You Know Color Has A Lot To Do With It?

November 25th, 2013

color-wheel-combination-paletteWhen constructing an e-commerce website, website owners as well as architects should take into consideration the way color has an impact on the consumer.  There have been numerous studies done on this in the past few years, some are rather interesting.  This excerpt from a recent article discusses this study:

Colors as a Main Variable of the Atmosphere Associated With E-Commerce Websites

Color perception is a complex process in that it is more than a mere physiological or psychological fact. It is also formed by the consumer’s national culture, general education and socio-professional background. According to general psychological data (Fleury & Imbert, 1996) individuals are endowed with a physiological ability to perceive colors (Wright & Rainwater, 1962; Nakshian, 1964; Wilson, 1966; Jacobs & Suess, 1975; Kwallek et al., 1988).

Color has always been used by human beings as an aid to distinguish important information from unimportant or irrelevant information. It is essential in strategies of camouflage for example. It also aids an individual’s memory in many uses such as presenting information, assisting in education or even in the intention to purchase (Harrison, 2001).

Although color is a widely researched topic (Divard & Urien, 2001), to this day, very few studies focus on this topic within the context of the Internet. Research is limited to several studies about the impact of colors on Internet site readability providing advice about how to choose the most harmonious colors (Hill & Scharff, 1997; Hall & Hanna, 2004), while usability research experts, such as Nielsen (2000), make managerial recommendations. Coursaris et al. (2008) have studied the effects of color temperature and gender on perceptions of website aesthetics. Yet color is omnipresent in e-commerce websites. The components of atmospherics on e-commerce websites, quoted by respondents in a research study based on semi-structured interviews, included color as a pivotal variable (Lemoine, 2008). Generally speaking, it affects consumer behavior in compliance with Mehrabian and Russell’s psycho environmental model, the SOR model (Stimulus Organism Response) (Mehrabian & Russell, 1974).

Color contains three principal components (Trouve, 1999):

* Hue (or chromatic tonality), which is the attribute of the visual sensation defined according to the colors denominations such as blue, green, red etc.

* Saturation, which provides the proportion of chromatically pure color contained in the total sensation;

* Brightness, which corresponds to the component of an illuminated surface according to which the surface seems to emit more or less light.

To this day, the effects of the three-color components on the Internet have been but seldom documented. Gorn et al.’s (2004) work focusing on the impact of the three color components on downloading time perception, demonstrate that a lengthy waiting time influences the user’s appraisal of the Internet site and can lessen his/her desire to recommend it to others. Kiritani and Shirai (2003) show that the effects of screen background colors on time perception vary according to the tasks performed by Internet users. When reading a text written on a white, blue or green screen background, users have the feeling that time passes by more slowly. Pelet (2008, 2010) has shown the importance of considering chromatic colors vs. achromatic ones, taking into consideration the effects of the three color’s components: hue, brightness and saturation.

Papadopoulou, Panagiota, and Jean-Eric Pelet. “The effect of e-commerce websites’ colors on customer trust.” International Journal of E-Business Research 7.3 (2011): 1+

So what colors should you use?

Firstly, use colors that make sense.  For this website, for example, we used a green color scheme because it fits our topic and our brand name.  If we were to use a red or purple color scheme it would confuse users, and lead them to believe that we were perhaps not so serious about our commitment to green sustainability.

Think about your target market.  Expensive luxury items, you will note, use a more black and white and grey type color scheme.  Children’s toys and brands use a pastel or primary color palate with more colors.  Blue collar everyman type businesses such as Ford or Jeep (on the cusp of luxury and everyman) use a more blue and green palate.