Friday, August 18, 2017

Chrome will show security warnings on your website.

Google it appears have decided that any data input by a user should be encrypted from the users computer to the server. As a result, Google Chrome version  62, come October will show any web page with a text or email field that is on a http site, as being non secure.

Here is an example of the message received from Google.

Chrome will show security warnings on <website>

To owner of <website>,

Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.

The following URLs on your site include text input fields (such as < input type="text" > or < input type="email" >) that will trigger the new Chrome warning. Review these examples to see where these warnings will appear, so that you can take action to help protect users’ data. This list is not exhaustive.

Like many developers I have a number of websites that are hosted and use http. Personally I don't think there's much security risk for many of my sites. For example sites that convert inches to cm, allow a person to enter a postcode, or the many different calculators I've created. None of that information really presents a risk to a user. However Google is dictating what developers do by pushing them to have sites using https.

We'll have to wait and see how intrusive the non-secure message is, but at this stage it looks like it will appear as an information message in the address area. If it becomes intrusive by blocking what users do, that could be a concern.

Appropriate security is definitely a good thing. Having secure sites where there is little to no reason for security, that's almost bordering on dictating and that's a concern.

The good thing is people generally have a choice and if they're not happy with the path taken by Google, they can simply stop using the Google Chrome browser. If people are happy with Google's direction, then they'll probably stop using sites that don't conform. Either way the choice is yours.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

iiNet advertising Superfast internet in many cases has the same speed as today's internet.

I've noticed ads with the term Superfast to promote internet using the NBN and I feel this can mislead people into thinking they're getting faster internet speeds than they already are getting.

The base NBN plan from iiNet is for a service with a speed of 5-12Mbps. The next level of plans at 5-25Mbps.

The current ADSL2+ service in theory can achieve 20,000kbps or 20Mbps. However, measuring the speed of services people are using, a typical speed is more around 10-14Mbps. The basic NBN service compared to a well functioning ADSL2+ service is actually slower. For iiNet to call their basic NBN based service Superfast, if it makes people think they're getting a faster service, is misleading.

For those on Optus cable it is not unusual to get up to 30Mbps. This is faster than ADSL2+, but not what I'd call Superfast. In fact, since all the iiNet services that I saw on their page have a maximum speed of 25Mbps, I don't consider any of the plans offered to be Superfast at all.

The NBN can deliver speeds of 50 and 100Mbps. If iiNet were promoting these speeds which are typically above the current speeds consumers are getting, then perhaps using the Superfast term could be considered OK.

Don't be misled by the advertising for the NBN service. The basic plans which most people will more than likely take up are actually around the same speed or slower than ADSL2+ services people currently use, if they have a good ADSL2+ service.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Get an extra month on Office 365 subscription for free.

If you're a home user and don't use Microsoft's Office 365 that much, but still want to have access to the programs, here's a couple of tips to save money on your renewal.

You'll get warned that your Office 365 is about to end. Let it end if you're a Windows user. You'll then be nagged for the next month (roughly 30 days) to reactivate your licence. That gives you a month's free use of Office 365. If you don't need to use Office 365 you can continue with Office 365 where you can only read but not edit documents. This of course doesn't work for Outlook users, but if you have a backup mail client such as your mobile phone, you may be able to skip using Outlook as well for some time.

Now don't just renew the subscription. If you do that you pay the full subscription fee. Head into Officeworks and purchase an Office 365 subscription card. The price at Officeworks is $96 for the Office 365 Home 5 device product. Keep the licence ready for when you really need to use Office again. See how long you can go without using Office 365. The longer you wait the more you save money as you're delaying the next time you need to pay for the subscription. For Australians the price for the Office 365 renewal is $119, so buying a renewal from Officeworks saves some money.

Apple Mac users, unfortunately once Office 365 expires you don't get the extra month. But of course Apple Mail is very good and you have other Apple software you can use, so perhaps you can delay renewing the new licence.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hey Siri? What are you and the rock up to?

An ad appeared on the TV tonight to get people to say "hey siri, what are you and the rock up to", which I suspect will then display the video Apple created featuring the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Siri.

If you think about this ad it should be a concern. There's an implication how easy it is for Apple to add whatever commands it wants to, to direct people where Apple wants them to go.

When the technology we use is biased to work in a particular way to the benefit of the provider, it can mean you never know if you're getting impartial or biased results. That's when we can start to lose confidence in the technology.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

NBN users not getting anywhere near the speed they're paying for.

I like to see how clients' NBN has been set up and it's interesting to watch the trouble people are having with NBN.

I attended one client and was wondering why they were still using their Wi-Fi router when a new Wi-Fi router had been installed. Their original W-Fi router was daisy chained to the NBN Wi-Fi router and they were still using their old Wi-Fi router, not the new one.

The reason given by the tech was their original Wi-Fi router had better speed an coverage. I did some testing and the tech was certainly right.

The new Wi-Fi router provided by the NBN installer (it's generally the same white Huawei box) isn't particularly fast. This client was paying for the top speed 100Mbps NBN service. The NBN provided W-Fi router was only providing a download speed of 27Mbps. Their old Wi-Fi router was providing a download speed of 59Mbps. To get even close to the stated download speed you have to connect via Ethernet which provided a download speed of 87Mbps.

If you're using the NBN installer's provided Wi-Fi router, you're probably only going to get about quarter of the download speed you're paying for if you connect your devices using Wi-Fi.

This client was previously paying Optus extra to be on their high speed service but testing showed they were getting around 20Mbps, and during one test, around 5.6Mbps. Previous testing of the Optus cable service showed the basic service could achieve 30Mbps, so this client was paying money to Optus and not getting anything extra, in fact much less than they'd expect with the basic Optus cable service.

With the NBN service they opted for the highest speed, but unknown to them they would never be able to take advantage of the speed as their W-Fi routers would never deliver the speed. That's paying extra money for something that's never going to be used.

In fact for this client I suggested their use was very basic and all they most likely needed was the base NBN service at 12Mbps (previously measure to deliver around 11Mbps). For their needs this would meet their needs and save them money.

One other question did cross my mind and that was, why don't they just discard the new Wi-Fi router. The reason they can't is the Wi-Fi router provided by the NBN installer provides the telephone line to the home. If people decide to get rid of their home telephone landline, this is no longer a problem.

It's important to measure what you're getting from the NBN services you are paying for. There's a very good chance you're paying too much and getting much less than you think you are.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Who would have thought your vacuum cleaner might be spying on you?

We've all heard of those vacuum cleaners that bump around the house avoiding objects and cleaning the house. However, I never once thought about the data it could be capturing and that the data may potentially be made available to others.

This is another example of how a smart device is collecting information and that information may end up being used by third party organisations.

Now that you know, you at least have the knowledge to make a decision about whether or not you get a robotic vacuum cleaner if your data and privacy is important to you.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support

Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC error on some Atom based PCs.

Microsoft seems to shaft its customers with such frequency the loyalty factor towards Microsoft is almost dissipating, if it hasn't already.

When I saw Microsoft drop it's blogging platform discarding 20-30 million users without concern, it made me stop and pause. When they dropped support for 300 million or so Windows XP users, I simply shook my head. Time and time again it's move forward and discard existing users without apparent concern, at least that's how it feels.

Microsoft was always known for very long term support for their software. With Windows 10 that seems to have vanished as well. The problem is Microsoft has moved to much more frequent updates and with each release they only support the current plus the previous version. The older version drops off support. In the past there may have been two updates for the entire life of the operating system, whereas no there's around one or two per year.

In the press I read people who purchased some of the lightweight Atom processor based computers are getting the error message "Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC".

According to the article, the error appears when trying to update to Windows 10 Creators Update, which came out around April 2017. There's another update coming out later this year (Windows 10 Creators Fall update). That means two updates and potential for the computer's operating system to no longer be supported, making using the computer questionable.

Another article I read indicates Microsoft may be working with Intel on drivers to resolve the issue (why wasn't this already done before the software was released) and Microsoft will continue to provide patches (but the question is for how long).

The processors that are affected are the Atom Z2760, Z2520, Z2560, Z2580.

You can check the processor type in your computer by viewing the system information.

Select Settings -> System -> About

Then check the processor type.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support