Hotspots: Cyber-security on the road

Cyber-security for hotspots and cell tower connections

Every year it’s more important to pay attention to security at WiFi Hotspots: security for you and your device(s) of choice on the road.

How bad can it get? Well, the worst would be to have your personal identity stolen. That would be devastating. Other misadventures could be more traumatic than you might now appreciate.

It takes work to build a stout defense, but each step will add to your cyber-safety on the road. Get started now, and you won’t end up being one of the weakest of the herd.

To get started take a look at the notes for today’s talk:

Windows 10

I’ve installed Windows 10 “Technical Review” (early beta) on the club’s laptop and one of my desktops. Both were running 8. A botched “Update 1 to Windows 8.1″ had corrupted the desktop. Why reset it to 8 when I could go to Windows 10?

My desktop upgrade proceeded without a hitch. The laptop upgrade stopped with this message: “We can’t tell how to upgrade your computer.” Darn. Well, the easiest thing was to try it again. The upgrade completed without a hiccup on the second try. Even my printer works with them now!

Windows 10 is a simply a great operating system. I reckon it will be released before this time next year. Windows 10 compared to 8 is like Windows 7 compared to Vista. Even more so. In particular, the Start menu is back in a fresh new format. It works nicely for PCs, tablets, and eventually Windows Phones.

The internal changes are impressive too, particularly responsiveness and security. If you liked Windows 7 you’re gonna love Windows 10. It brings the world of Universal apps (was Modern or Metro) to Windows without ruining things for the mouse & keyboard user.

Uncommon sense

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.” ~Bob Dylan


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I’ve been checking out the HP Chromebook 14 (14-inch display) that we acquired a couple of weeks ago. It’s a delight to use. It starts in less than 10 seconds, and wakes up in 2. This computer lends truth to the axiom that less is more. Chrome OS, the Chromebook’s operating system, stays out of the way. You hardly know it’s there. And the user interface is clean and well thought out. More like an iBook than a Windows notebook. Sorry Microsoft.

This Chromebook is superb for casual computing and hanging out on the Internet, but I don’t see myself being casual about computing most of the time. And while the HP Chromebook 14 has a very nice keyboard, it’s no match for my little Logitech K810, which has a better feel than any of the many other keyboards I’ve used. But it is a tempting little computer.

Today I recounted my experience of getting to know this Chromebook. One piece of classic advice: “don’t go cheap” is in order. You can find Chromebooks at $200. This one is around $350, but its superior keyboard, touchpad, construction and styling definitely make a difference.

Links to the content of the talk >>

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Urgent Information

Just as things are winding down for the season, two big issues have emerged. By now you have heard of the Heartbleed disaster, and of course Windows 8.1 Update 1 is in play.

Windows 8.1 Update 1

If you’ve already updated Windows 8.1 with the latest update, congratulations. Otherwise you might want to hold off until April 24 when I will have more information. You can track my “Pearls” on the topic here.


Heartbeat is the name of a faulty module for the encrypted website protocol that most of the world uses. One tiny oversight in Heartbeat renders secure sites, such as your bank’s, insecure. The hole has been named Heartbleed.

The bigger problem is, Heartbleed is not just a fix-and-forget kind of problem. By now, most most sensitive sites have been fixed. But it’s tough to find out the absolute status of many of them.

Your best bet is to change your passwords for sensitive sites now, and then again when the fog clears. Be sure to take the opportunity to use a different password for each of your sensitive sites, and make it a robust one.

George alerted us to the problem at the meeting yesterday, and I have started a Pearltree to track developments. Ignore at your own risk.


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