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Category Archives: Technology

BEWARE OF RANSOM WARE – AFFECTING COMPUTERS HERE IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

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The Internet is an amazing thing. Its ability to give you access to almost anything at anytime has changed the world, and can be a real blessing for people living in remote locations, of which we have plenty here in far north Queensland. But there are risks online – at its worst, the Internet is a shady back alley inhabited by spivs and swindlers ready to relieve you of your money, your data, your identity.

In most cases, they can only succeed if you let them in. There’s a new method being used by computer con-artists – it’s called ransom ware. This is a kind of malware, software that’s placed on your computer for malicious purposes. As the name suggests, ransom ware creates a situation you can’t resolve and you’re then asked for a payment to fix it – a ransom. Some are fake, put out there in the hope you’ll pay up before you check if any damage has been done. But others are the real deal, programs that encrypt your data, turning it into useless gibberish. These programs have found their way onto business computers and networks here in FNQ. And you don’t have to be doing anything dodgy or dangerous online to acquire ransom ware. It’s often picked up from seemingly legitimate, innocuous internet activity.

So – how can you avoid ransom ware, and what should you do if your computer or network becomes infected. ABC Far North IT expert Rob Rutten has this advice. LISTEN here

LOOKS LIKE A FAKE - IT IS. BUT HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT

LOOKS LIKE A FAKE – IT IS. BUT HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in EFFINCUE, Technology

 

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THE UPS AND DOWNS OF WINDOWS 8

windows-8-screenWhere did Microsoft go wrong with Windows 8?

When Microsoft launched Windows 8 a year ago it was hailed as the biggest shakeup in personal computing since Windows 95. Windows 8 has legions of admirers and advocates, but not everyone is happy with it. Users with plenty of tech savvy find it easy to operate, but for the average PC user, it may have been just too big a leap.

At least some of the negative reaction may be down to resistance to change. Up till now, you could easily move from one Windows operating system to the next without having to change your computing skills too much. And Windows 8 really does signal Microsoft’s shift from being a PC-based platform to a future it sees in tablets, smartphones and whatever comes after that.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear ABC Far North IT expert Rob Rutten on the ups and downs of Windows 8 and the future of personal computing devices

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, EFFINCUE, Technology

 

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IS SCHOOL STILL RELEVANT IN THE 21st CENTURY?

educating-gen-wi-fiSchools as we currently know them go back to the dawn of the industrial age. Class-rooms, teachers delivering chalk and talk lessons, assigning homework. The students are somewhere safe while their parents were at work, being prepared for a work-force they would soon join and stay in till old age, probably with the same employer..

Times have changed, but schools have not, at least not enough to deliver the kind of education children need in the 21st century, says Australian educator Greg Whitby. He says the world is changing at an unprecedented rate, our schools haven’t kept up and so we’re missing opportunities to better equip our kids for a world that will change even more by the time they’re adults.

Greg makes a compelling case in his just-published book EDUCATING GEN WI-FI. While rapidly developing new technologies are a key issue, Greg says it’s not just about computers, smart phones and Youtube. Children currently at school may have many different jobs in their future working lives, and many of those jobs have not yet been invented. School was once seen as “preparation for life” but Greg argues that education is life, and the most important thing schools can do is teach children how to learn, so they can keep on learning long after they graduate.

Greg Whitby

Greg Whitby

And if, like many parents, you think Youtube and the Internet should just be for play-time and recreation, Greg Whitby says it’s time to reconsider your position. Like all things, the new technologies can be used well, or very badly. But they offer great opportunities to teach our children well.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to hear Greg Whitby talk about the origins of our current school systems, and what a 21st century class-room should be.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to hear Greg Whitby on the role of technology in 21st century schools and why Youtube could be as important as text-books and homework.

Greg Whitby has been an educator for 30 years – in the past 14 years he’s led a system of Catholic schools in the Dioceses of Wollongong and now Parramatta. Read about Greg and check out his blog at http://bluyonder.wordpress.com/about/

 

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BUYING MUSIC OR SOFTWARE ONLINE? WHY DO AUSTRALIANS PAY SO MUCH MORE?

comp 1Being so far from the “big smoke” can be a mixed blessing. Here in far north Queensland, we’re two days drive from our state capital, and much further still from Australia’s biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. We don’t have to endure the lengthy commute to work, the congestion, the high cost of living that goes with residing in the major cities.

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But we do miss the range of choices on offer in the big smoke – especially in retail and entertainment. So in regional Australia, a lot of us have taken to computers and the online world in a big way. For us FNQ folk, shopping online isn’t just a case of looking for better prices. We may be hundreds, even thousands of kilometres from the nearest big stores, so the Net may be our only affordable access.

But in one area of online retail, Australians pay far more than people in other countries. Buying music online, computer hardware and software. Australians pay up to 50 per cent more for these products than in comparable Western nations. It’s hard to find a sensible explanation for this but the Australian Parliament is going to try. Today it took the rare step of issuing summons to appear before a Parliamentary committee, requiring Apple, Microsoft and Adobe to attend on March 22 and explain. Read about the issue of the summons here http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-11/microsoft-apple-summonsed-to-front-parliamentary-committee/4512236

The Australian consumer advocacy group CHOICE has welcomed the news. It says Australians are paying on average 34% more for software, 52% more for iTunes music, 88% more for Wii games and 41% more for computer hardware than US consumers. Choice says it is hard to understand why prices are so much higher in Australia, and it will be very interesting to hear what the three companies tell the Parliamentary inquiry.

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Click on the red arrow to hear CHOICE CEO ALAN KIRKLAND on what the inquiry might achieve, and why the prices are so high.

You can read more at the CHOICE website http://www.choice.com.au/media-and-news/consumer-news/news/parliament-summons-tech-giants.aspx

And there may be a way to get around this. CHOICE has a guide to navigating around what’s called GEO-BLOCKING – that’s the way Internet sites know which country you’re in and can restrict access or offer different information to you, depending on your location. This is a bit of a legal grey area, so check the note about the legal situation when you read the guide at http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/computers-and-online/networking-and-internet/shopping-online/navigating-online-geoblocks.aspx

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in EFFINCUE, rd on the road, Technology

 

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