Douglas Adams, Voice Recognition and proofing magazines - there IS a connection!
By David HAGUE
At the moment I'm reading a book, in fact the last book, by Douglas Adams, the celebrated author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe. This book is called the Salmon of Doubt and despite being billed as the fifth edition of the franchise (I detest that term for descriptions of a series), it really isn't.
Instead, it is a series of musings, observations, predictions, ideas, and lots of silly thoughts and others not so silly that were rescued from Adams' hard drives after sadly he passed away in 2001 aged 51, from a heart attack.
(As an aside this is way too young. I have experience of this as my father died aged 53 and my older brother at the same age to the very day of the same thing. In the period before this happened I understand both refused to see doctors primarily due to pride. This meant in both cases it could have been prevented probably by taking a single pill every day that would have taken seconds. I have to say that the grief that to this day still endures not just by myself but other members of the family including my brother's children is very palpable. Ergo, seriously if you are in the age group and in the risk factors ie everyone, I urge you to at least get a doctor's check up. Hey it takes seconds and is free!)
Anyway, one of the things that Adams talks about in this book written in 1991, is his hope that voice recognition will come some time soon. It is no secret that he is an Apple Macintosh fan and he reckons it will be Apple to develop this very quickly.
I digress again and this is the real point. As many know, I own, publish and edit the magazine called Auscam (www.auscamonline.com) and when the proofs come back from the designer it can be a real pain and very time-consuming to go through and work out what the edits are to make corrections. The current edition under construction is a perfect case in point is compilation of every video camera on the market at the moment. And that includes every single technical specification.
But I have now discovered that using voice recognition, in this case DragonDictate 12, it's a breeze. I have the PDFs in one window and DragonPad (their basic notepad editor) in another, and simply scroll through the PDFs finding the errors dictate them into DragonPad and then send the document off to the layout expert. I get him to sign off each line of the edits I've made and send them back to me so I can cross-reference them.
Works a treat as much much faster than say using Adobe Acrobat markup.
Oh and blatant plug. If you have any interest in camcorders or video or the accessories that go with that we have a special at the moment on a 12 edition subscription of the real paper version of Auscam four $49.95 including postage.
See the website for details (click on “Store” in the menu bar) or email me via email@example.com.
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SMBs - wake up and smell the coffee!
By Ian GRAYSON
If you're running a small business that relies on office-based PCs and servers to store important data, it's time to have a long hard look at where you're going in life.
Despite the best efforts of service providers and IT vendors, far too few SMBs have yet embraced the benefits of cloud computing. Rather, they continue to rely on in-house infrastructures that are far less efficient, reliable and flexible. The question is ... why?
Walk into almost any small law firm, real estate office, accountant or retail outlet and chances are you'll find a computer server humming away in the corner. Just has it has been for the past 10 years, it's supporting critical tools such as email and data storage. The problem is, this is no longer the most effective way of operating.
While the big end of town is moving rapidly to the cloud, SMBs seem far more reluctant to embrace the trend. It's odd when you consider the big advantages that are on offer.
Rather than having to manage and maintain IT equipment, responsibility can be shifted to an external provider. The chance of data loss is all but removed and resources can be scaled up (and down) as the business demands change.
When you look at the cost v return equation of cloud for SMBs, it's downright compelling.
So why have so few established SMBs jumped onto the cloud bandwagon? Lack of knowledge and understanding? Resistance to change? Head in the sand?
I'm intrigued to know.
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Chumby goes into hibernation, which gadget will be next to go?
By Adam TURNER
Gadgets reliant on web services are living on borrowed time.
Once you buy a gadget it's obviously yours to keep, but it could be rendered a paperweight at any time if it's totally dependent on an online service. My long-serving Chumby touchscreen alarm clock has been living on borrowed time for more than a year. Conceived in the pre-iPhone age, the Chumby is a tiny Linux box which runs various widgets such as displaying weather forecasts, RSS feeds and digital photo streams. Unfortunately these widgets are all totally reliant on the Chumby website. Without the ability to sign in, the Chumby can only tell you the time.
Since Chumby Industries closed its doors in December 2011, a small group of volunteers has kept the Chumby's background infrastructure up and running. Now they've had to pull the plug. Rather than completely abandoning loyal Chumby owners, they've put a basic authentication service in place which still allows the Chumby to start up, load a clock widget and act as a programmable alarm clock. Their long-term hope is to one day restore the full service.
The Chumby isn't the only gadget in my house that I'm worried about. TiVo Australia refuses to return my calls and seems to be dead in the water. Unfortunately the TiVo personal video recorder is completely useless without the backend TiVo servers to provide the Electronic Program Guide. In the UK the TiVo EPG was continued for almost a decade after they pulled TiVos off the shelf, so hopefully Australian TiVo owners won't be left in the lurch too soon.
Then there's my highly cherished Logitech Harmony 785 universal remote control. It's survived more than its share of rough and tumble, but unfortunately it is totally reliant on Logitech's web services when you need to reprogram it. This service actually seemed like one of its strengths, but it looks like a weakness now that Logitech is thinking about selling off the Harmony brand. If the web service is discontinued then the remote will gradually be rendered useless as I upgrade to new lounge room gadgets.
How many of your gadgets are living on borrowed time?
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Java: attack and defence
By Stephen WITHERS
Following an attack on its own computers, Apple has released a security update for Java 6 for Lion and Mountain Lion.
It includes a "malware removal tool" for Snow Leopard and later, but only for those systems with Java 6 installed. Presumably it cleans up the malware that struck at Apple.
The simplest ways to get the update is via Software Update or App Store (as appropriate for the version of OS X you're running), but if you need to apply the update to multiple computers it makes sense to download the installer from Apple's Support Downloads page.
The current version of Java is Java 7, which is developed and distributed for OS X by Oracle, along with those for other platforms. Java 7 does not work with Google's Chrome browser, as it only works with 64-bit browsers and Chrome is a 32-bit application.
According to reports (see, for example, The Mac Observer), Apple acknowledged that some of its Macs had been attacked by the same group that recently attacked Facebook.
According to Cult of Mac, Apple officials said "There is no evidence that any data left Apple" as a result of the attack.
The new Java update from Apple "update uninstalls the Apple-provided Java applet plug-in from all web browsers" according to About Java for OS X 2013-001, which makes it a lot harder for the bad guys to trick you into running Java-based malware simply by visiting a malicious web page.
But if you do need to to run Java applets, you'll need to install Oracle's Java software - clicking "Missing plug-in" on an affected page will help with the installation. Just be sure that you can trust the applet that's trying to run!
There's been a degree of hysteria about Java vulnerabilities in recent months, possibly due to the wide range of devices that it runs on. In some ways, it's the 'new Flash'. But as far as I can see, there's no good reason to avoid a piece of software just because it uses Java.
If you don't need Java, don't install it. If you previously installed Java but you no longer need it, uninstall it. That's called "reducing the attack surface" and applies to any piece of software.
If you do need Java, keep it up to date. This basically means leaving "Check for Updates Automatically" selected in Java Control Panel and accepting updates as they are offered.
If you don't need to run applets, disable the Java plugin in your browser(s).
If you do need to run applets, consider tightening Java's security settings so that untrusted apps will never run without warning. Sophos has some suggestions that you may find useful.
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Do you lock your smartphone?
By Alex KIDMAN
I've just spent three rather exhausting days at the Kickstart Media conference up on the Sunshine Coast, surrounded by a lot of portable technology -- and for those who like this sort of thing, while there was a definite slant towards Macbooks as the laptop of choice, there was a lot of variety in the handsets on display; name not just a mobile operating system, but even a manufacturer and chances were that there was at least one wandering around. Androids, iPhones, Blackberries, Windows Phone 8, even Symbian, for reasons which… no, I can't make any sense out of that one.
Anyway, conferences are busy places, and journalists -- and the associated IT industry representatives, PR types and conference organisers -- are all rather sorely overworked (start playing world's smallest violin solo here), so there was a lot of going back and forth leaving gadgets on tables while coffees were procured, senior politicians were lightly grilled and story deals were struck. Also, it's one of the rare instances where the entire Hydrapinion writing crew were all in the same room.
Aside from noting the variety of handsets on offer, the other thing that struck me was that a good number of the phones I saw left on tables appeared to be essentially unlocked; I did see some that had number or pattern locks enabled, but just as many that were ripe for the plucking if I'd felt like using, say, a PR person's smartphone to tweet out how wonderful, say, @alexkidman is. Sadly, I cannot report whether Malcolm Turnbull leaves his smartphone unlocked or not; that may be a matter of free-market access in any case.
There's an obvious question of convenience versus security -- and whether you're more concerned about your phone being stolen or merely misappropriated for nefarious comedy tweeting. Personally, I prefer a lock; it takes a little more time to use the phone quickly, but I can be pretty sure that the only person using the phone is me -- as long as the password isn't DRAGON.
Image: Johan Larsson
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