Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Which is the most secure Web Browser? Spoiler: it's Chrome!

The Pwn2Own 2017 hacking contest, which celebrated its 10th anniversary, concluded after three days in which security teams hacked away at browsers and operating systems. Microsoft’s Edge seems to have been hit the hardest, while Chrome remained unhackable during the contest.
Microsoft created the Edge browser by rewriting most of it from scratch (some parts were forked from Internet Explorer). The company’s goal was to have a browser that’s much more secure and that can keep up with Chrome and Firefox when it comes to supporting the latest web standards. Edge even implemented sandboxing technologies that were similar to what Chrome was using, which put it ahead of Firefox, which is still trying to play catch-up in this regard.

The Real Vicars of Dibley: Heavens Angels!

Here we see Father Scott Anderson and Pastor Paul Sinclair on 'The Real Vicars of Dibley' (BBC1) blessing the Ace Cafe London in September 2001. 
At that time Father Scott was the Parish Priest at Willesden Green and Pastor Paul the Pentecostal minister just further up the street in Willesden itself.
God's sense of humour to assign both motorcycling ministers to the very same street!

For further reading on Faith on two wheels, see:

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Ask Toolbar - if you needed to ask, just don't go there!

For years people have been opening their browser and asking, "how the heck did that Ask Toolbar get installed?"

Chances are that if you don't have the search toolbar haunting your PC, you may have friends or family who are afflicted.

Normally the Ask toolbar is installed in a slightly underhand fashion. Users install the likes of Java (as though there weren't a mistake in itself!) and have unwanted additional software foisted upon them, as they fail to read the small print and don't spot that they've accidentally agreed to install the toolbar.

If you have the Ask Toolbar in your Web Browser - it needs to go! 
Do uninstall it. If you need a hand - contact Donline.


Our new shed, by Malvern Timber Framed Buildings

At Malvern Timber Framed Buildings we specialise in handmade garden timber framed buildings. We offer a stunning collection of outdoor spaces that can be tailored to your every specification.

Our reputation of high quality standards and excellent customer satisfaction has been built through our team of skilled craftsmen. We hand-make every timber-framed building using only the finest materials to provide long-lasting protection.

Kim & I can highly recommend Malvern Timber Framed Buildings - for all your "shed" needs! They helped us come up with a bespoke design, manufactured to order, delivered and installed by professionals. More expensive than your "common or garden" shed? Yes, but you certainly get what you pay for! Manufactured from top quality materials - exactly to your specification. A+

Buying a bike? The difference between PCP and Hire Purchase

You can buy seemingly anything on finance nowadays, and that extends to motorcycles, with Personal Contract Purchases (PCP) accounting for 20-30% of all new bike sales. Although it's probably the one you're most familiar with, PCP isn't the only form of finance available, there's also Hire Purchase.

They seem similar - both let you pay a deposit and a series of monthly instalments over a set period of time - but that's where the similarities end.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)
PCP offers low monthly payments, low deposits and a bit of flexibility - if you don't want to buy the bike at the end of the contract you don't have to. 

If you want to keep the bike you'll have to pay the optional final payment. Alternatively you could exchange it for a new model and start a new contract, or simply walk away. 

However, interest rates tend to be slightly higher than with Hire Purchase and if you exceed the mileage limit or damage the bike beyond fair wear and tear you could face extra charges.

Hire Purchase
Hire Purchase is slightly simpler than PCP. The cost of the bike is split across the monthly payments and the initial deposit. Once you've paid your final payment, the bike is yours.

HP contracts typically last longer than PCP deals which make them more affordable and since you'll automatically own the BIKE after the final payment, you don't have to worry about saving up extra cash for the optional final payment like with PCP.

It's worth noting that the bike could be worth less than you estimated at the end of the contract, which could be a problem if you plan to sell it on soon after you take ownership.

I bought my Honda Crosstourer on PCP from Hunt's Motorcycles. It was on a 0% interest deal from Honda. This deal used my Suzuki V-Strom 650 GT as deposit, gave me low monthly payments over 3 years, with a final balloon payment (I'm keeping the bike!) - due this summer.
I have been really happy with this way to buy a new bike. Hunt's were a great dealer to buy from (I will again!), and Honda build quality is as good as it gets. All happy!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Deal of the day: Samsung 24" Full HD Monitor £104.99

Samsung S24E390HL 24" Full HD VGA HDMI Monitor

1920 x 1080 Full HD
4ms Response Time
250cd/m2 Brightness
Flicker Free

Friday, 17 March 2017

Microsoft isn't updating Windows 7 or 8.1 on latest CPU architectures

Microsoft is currently not providing updates to Windows 7/8.1 for users of the following CPU architectures: Intel seventh (7th)-generation processors (Kaby Lake), AMD "Bristol Ridge" (Zen/Ryzen)Qualcomm "8996" .

This error occurs because new processor generations require the latest Windows version for support. For example, Windows 10 is the only Windows version that is supported on the following processor generations:

Intel seventh (7th)-generation processors
AMD “Bristol Ridge”
Qualcomm “8996"

Because of how this support policy is implemented, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 devices that have a seventh generation or a later generation processor may no longer be able to scan or download updates through Windows Update or Microsoft Update.

On a side note, it's surprising just what is powered by AMD's Ryzen CPU.
I guess Walter's OS isn't Windows 7!

Child Of Hope Uganda - Faith in Action & Motorcycles too!

A slum mum running a tiny business selling beans identified a possible business idea – and has now launched a successful new business selling motorbike spare parts. Better still, she has been able to employ skilled workers to do the maintenance and repair work on the bikes!

Stella Arakit, a 50 year-old mother with a family of five children and three dependants, was inspired by the increasing number of motorbike transport businesses (Boda Bodas) in the Namatala slum. She developed a business plan to start a motorbike spare parts shop to provide motor bike repair services for the local Boda Bodas. Then Stella shared her business idea with our IGA support staff, who gave her encouragement and business counselling on how to realise her dream. 

Kim & I love Child Of Hope Uganda. They do such wonderful work.

Need an accountant for your business? You need AIMS

AIMS do what you expect an accountant to do, and do it well.

Tax, Accounting and Bookkeeping are time consuming and there are so many rules and regulations even accountants despair at times. But as a business owner you can’t get away from these and they are simply tasks that need to be done and done well. The upside is that you can hire a qualified accountant to deal with the numbers, your tax and your accounts, leaving you to do what you do best – running and developing your business.

That’s where we come in. AIMS accountants have the knowledge and expertise in all areas of accounting and are more than happy to take on the bean counting and number crunching for you.

I have used AIMS for the last 11 years - since starting my business
They have been invaluable in offering good advice and professional accountancy services. I can wholeheartedly recommend them!

Contact Matthew & tell him that Don sent you!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Still using Windows Vista? Really? Here is stuff you need to know!

Windows Vista will fall out of Extended Support on 11th April 2017.

This means: no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates.

In the unlikely event that you are still using Windows Vista as the operating system on a PC, you need to urgently come up with a "plan B" - contact Donline.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Christian Aid: East Africa Crisis Appeal

16 million people across South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia urgently need food

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 100,000 people face starvation and nearly 5 million people urgently need food. This crisis follows more than three years of devastating conflict, which has left millions of people without a safe place to call home.

The situation is also grave in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia where 14 million people are going hungry every day, caught up in the region’s worst drought in 50 years. In Somalia alone, over 360,000 children under five are extremely malnourished.

The situation is deteriorating rapidly. A major catastrophe is unfolding. We need to reach people quickly.

We must act now. 

Android malware: new phones and tablets found to be pre-installed with virus before being sold

Over 30 different Android smartphones and tablets have been found to have had malware preinstalled on them before users even switched them on, according to cyber security firm Check Point.

Check Point detected a “severe infection” on 38 handsets being used by two of its corporate clients, a telecommunications firm and a multinational technology company that have not been named.

The issue affects smartphones from a number of big-name brands, including Samsung, LG and Google. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Real life imitating art? Ozymandias returns!

Headline: Egypt extracts torso of 'Pharaoh Ramses II' statue from mud
Wikipedia: Ozymandias was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II.

Percy Bysshe Shelley: "Ozymandias"

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Honestly - what is wrong with some people? Got a dog? Take some responsibility then!

Mrs Main, MP for St Albans and the owner of a three-year old lakeland jack russell terrier called Sam, says the menace of poo-filled bags "is a massive problem" that is polluting the environment.

"Like many people, I like to walk my dog out in the countryside, parks and in woodland, but over the last few years I've noticed an increasing number of dog poo bags hanging off bushes, trees and railings - and it's disgusting," she said.

"People think it's the right thing to do to pick it up, but when they find there aren't any bins, they jettison the poo-bag into the undergrowth or lob it over a garden fence where animals can eat them, children pick them up or cyclists ride into them."

The answer is simple: Get some bags (we use these ones - they are great). Bag it. Use the bin if there is one. If not, take it home. PLEASE don't hang it in trees, or just dump it!

What info do you reveal when web browsing?

Everyone that is browsing the web right now has a user agent. It's the software that acts as the bridge between you, the user, and the internet. It's easiest to understand user agents if we backtrack and look at the evolution of the web, so we can understand the benefits of user agents.

When the internet was a text-based system, right back at the beginning of its use, users had to type commands to navigate and send messages. Now, we have browsers to do that for us. We simply point and click, and the browser is acting as our "agent," turning our actions into commands.

When your browser (or similar device) loads a website, it identifies itself as an agent when it retrieves the content you've requested. Along with that user agent identification, the browser sends a host of information about the device and network that it's on. This is a really set of data for web developers, since it allows them to customise the experience depending on the user agent that's loaded the page.

Click HERE to see what information is sent via your Web Browser:

Reading for today. C.S. Lewis: on Charity - as Love

Charity means love. It is called Agape in the New Testament to distinguish it from Eros (sexual love), StorgĂ« (family affection) and Philia (friendship) [E.g., 1 John 4:9]. So there are 4 kinds of ‘love’, all good in their proper place, but Agape is the best because it is the kind God has for us and is good in all circumstances. (There are people I mustn’t feel Eros towards, and people I can’t feel Storge or Philia for; but I can practise Agape to God, Angels, Man and Beast, to the good and the bad, the old and the young, the far and the near.

You see Agape is all giving, not getting. Read what St. Paul says about it in First Corinthians Chap. 13. Then look at a picture of Charity (or Agape) in action in St. Luke, chap 10 v. 30–35. And then, better still, look at Matthew chap 25 v. 31–46: from which you see that Christ counts all that you do for this baby exactly as if you had done it for Him when He was a baby in the manger at Bethlehem: you are in a sense sharing in the things His mother did for Him. Giving money is only one way of showing charity: to give time and toil is far better and (for most of us) harder. And notice, though it is all giving—you needn’t expect any reward— how you do gets rewarded almost at once.

Compiled in Yours, Jack

Friday, 10 March 2017

The perils of working from home with young children: fit a lock on the door.

There was an unexpected distraction for Professor Robert Kelly when he was being interviewed live on BBC News about South Korea.

But he managed to keep his composure and complete the interview successfully.

Does LinkedIn access your email address book - without your consent?

I think it does. Although I have never (deliberately / to my knowledge) given LinkedIn access to my email / mobile address book, they seem to be making some fairly targeted suggestions!

Have a look at this lengthy article. It looks like Linkedin are playing fast and loose with accessing stuff that they really shouldn't...

Thursday, 9 March 2017

TalkTalk just can't do any good - now blocking TeamViewer!

A spokeswoman for the UK ISP confirmed it had blocked "a number of sites and applications" including TeamViewer from its network to protect customers from phishing and scamming activities.

The company said it was working with TeamViewer and other third parties on implementing some additional security measures to enhance security.

TeamViewer is one of the most popular pieces of software to enable remote access. It was also used by hundreds of scammers attempting to defraud TalkTalk customers by gaining remote access to their computers.

This is what is known as throwing away the baby with the bathwater, while blaming other parties! 
Donline & many other reputable IT support companies spend significant sums of money to license TeamViewer to support our clients.
TalkTalk however doesn't have a particularly glowing reputation when it comes to security!
If you have had enough of the numpties at TalkTalk - contact Donline to discuss quality alternative ISPs.

Buggy backups! Unplug your WD My Cloud until these flaws are fixed

Consumers who use a Western Digital My Cloud for data backups should unplug their units for the time being due to a series of unpatched vulnerabilities.

On 7 March, the SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab disclosed vulnerabilities affecting the WD My Cloud private personal data storage unit. As it explains in an advisory:

"The firmware doesn't apply proper validation on many user inputs. As a result, below vulnerabilities could be exploited by unauthenticated attackers to fully compromise the device."

For instance, unauthenticated attackers could use a cURL request to upload a malicious file into the web server. They could then use the file to execute an arbitrary OS command, an attack vector which could grant them full control over the unit.

But that's not all. The firmware for WD My Cloud doesn't come with a mechanism designed to protect against cross-site request forgery attacks. Meaning? Any attacker can exploit any action via any script, including uploading a malicious file or executing an arbitrary OS command over the Internet.

Tracey Ullman's 'As A Christian...' Sketches: What's She Getting At?

If you were to make a list of modern Defenders of the Faith, Comedian Tracey Ullman probably wouldn't be at the top of it. The award-decorated star, who is even more of a household name in the US than in her native UK, has never talked openly about a personal religious faith, and got her big break playing a bizarre born-again Christian club singer.

Yet for her new TV series – her first original British programme for 22 years – she's created a Christian character which seems to be both 'faith-positive' and offering a critique on the marginalisation of the faith in modern Britain.

The character is a sympathetic, intelligent woman who impresses everyone around her until she utters her catchphrase line 'as a Christian...' At this point the atmosphere changes, the other characters treat her with a mix of fear and disgust, and the general consensus is that she's 'a bit weird' for having a faith in 2017.

In one sketch featuring the character, Patricia Hughes, the revelation is enough to thwart her chances of getting a job. Her interview is going well, to the point that the man across the table infers that she's going to get it, until she reveals that 'as a Christian' she finds it hard to talk up her skills and CV. As soon as he learns this his face falls, he calls in a colleague who confirms his concern at the news, and Patricia is made to feel uncomfortable to the point that she withdraws her application.

Read the full article at:
On being a Christian:

Please - don't feed the trolls!

If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Inside the TalkTalk "Indian scam call centre"

TalkTalk customers are being targeted by an industrial-scale fraud network in India, according to whistleblowers who say they were among hundreds of staff hired to scam customers of the telecoms giant.

The scale of the criminal operation has been detailed by the three sources, who say they were employed by two front-companies set up by a gang of professional fraudsters.

The sources describe working in "call centres" in two Indian cities.

They say as many as 60 "employees" work in shifts in each office, phoning TalkTalk customers and duping them into giving access to their bank accounts.

The whistleblowers say they were given a script in which they were told to claim they were calling from TalkTalk.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Today's reading: Martin Luther, "How to Contemplate Christ's Holy Sufferings"

"When your heart is thus established in Christ, and you are an enemy of sin, out of love and not out of fear of punishment, Christ's sufferings should also be an example for your whole life, and you should meditate on the same in a different way...

If a day of sorrow or sickness weighs you down, think, how trifling that is compared with the thorns and nails of Christ.

If you must do or leave undone what is distasteful to you: think, how Christ was led hither and thither, bound and a captive.

Does pride attack you: behold, how your Lord was mocked and disgraced with murderers.

Do unchastity and lust thrust themselves against you: think, how bitter it was for Christ to have his tender flesh torn, pierced and beaten again and again.

Do hatred and envy war against you, or do you seek vengeance: remember how Christ with many tears and cries prayed for you and all his enemies, who indeed had more reason to seek revenge.

If trouble or whatever adversity of body or soul afflict you, strengthen your heart and say: Ah, why then should I not also suffer a little since my Lord sweat blood in the garden because of anxiety and grief?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Use DblTek networking gear? Better think twice...

IoT devices from a Chinese vendor contain a hidden backdoor that the vendor is refusing to fix, according to security researchers.

The backdoor was discovered in almost all devices produced by VoIP specialist dbltek, and appears to have been purposely built in for use by the vendor, according to security firm TrustWave. The firm says that it followed a responsible disclosure process, but claims the vendor responded only with modifications that leave the backdoor open.

Trustwave claims the vendor then cut off contact with it. The security firm says it has since been able to write exploits that open both the old and new backdoors.

Hey, I know: let's stick EVERYTHING in the cloud. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?...

Tuesday's Amazon Web Services mega-outage knocked offline not only websites big and small, by yanking away their backend storage, but also knackered apps and Internet of Things gadgets relying on the technology.

In fact, the five-hour breakdown was so bad, Amazon couldn't even update its own AWS status dashboard: its red warning icons were stranded, hosted on the broken-down side of the cloud.

Essentially, S3 buckets in the US-East-1 region in northern Virginia, US, became inaccessible at about 0945 PST (1745 UTC). Software, from web apps to smartphone applications, relying on this cloud-based storage quickly broke, taking out a sizeable chunk of the internet as we know it.

Adolf gets a new bike, and he's not happy!

Well he may have been an evil homicidal megalomaniac, but he knows a fine motorcycle when he sees it!

Poor old GS owners...

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Very sad news from Compassion regarding their work in India


The Indian government placed funding constraints upon Compassion from May 2016, preventing us from transferring funds to our local partners. As a result, we are unable to fund our programmes in India and have been forced to shut down. Compassion is not the only ministry impacted. More than 20,000 NGOs have had their charitable registrations revoked and 300 face similar restrictions.

After a year of not knowing how this would turn out, this is truly a tragic time for poor children in India. Please pray that the Indian authorities will be able to see the disaster that they are bringing on their own people, and reverse this terrible decision.

The Trussell Trust Lent Challenge: 40 for 40.

The challenge

We are asking people to join us in taking small actions to transform lives by giving up 40 pence for 40 days. With the addition of Gift Aid this comes to £20.

Or if you feel like challenging yourself to give something up during this period, why not donate the cost of what you save towards The Trussell Trust?

What is Lent?

Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and is seen as a time of reflection where most people choose to give something up or try something new to mark the occasion.