Friday, April 25, 2008

Instant Messengers, The Good and The Bad

Instant messengers like MSN and Skype are widely used today. Businesses also draw benefits from these IMs (Instant Messengers), communication is fast and cheap, sometimes totally free. While the use of IMs for personal communication is hard to avoid, businesses need to be aware of dangers posed by Instant Messengers. We have come across companies that boast of high security, laptops are given to only a very few select managers, office systems cannot be accessed from outside the office, no one is allowed to bring in or take out storage devices like CDs and thumbdrives etc. The company proudly claimed that since the last 2 years, staff and workers have been given instructions not to carry mobile phones (cell phones) into or out of the office too.

On walking through the office we noticed almost every desk loaded with an active session of MSN messenger, some computers had Skype installed too. The managers were boasting of the communication costs saved by using these IMs. Fax and telephone bills across branch offices were almost completely eliminated. It was certainly a great achievement but most of them were not aware of other hazards created by these Instant Messengers. The fact is that almost any type of document or image can be sent out of the office by merely clicking a few keys on the Internet Messenger software. Staff did not have to play tricks with the security staff, physical checking would reveal nothing. By using a scanner and digital camera, no information in the office was confidential. You could even use the mircophone attached to these IMs and record voice inside the office, then send the file right out of the premises through the IM itself!

It might be useful to stay updated with such information, avoid problems before they occur and stop living with a false sense of security. Get more information at this link:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Forgetting Children In Cars, Technology Comes To The Rescue

It is not uncommon to hear about children being forgotten in cars. There have been cases reported where, children aged even below 1 year have been forgotten by parents and baby sitters in cars. One possible reason is that a baby is normally kept in a baby seat that is behind the drivers seat. Mothers in a hurry, turn off the air conditioner or heating system, get off the car and then lock the door. What follows is a sad story, innocent infants exposed to terrific heat or biting cold.

There are few suggestions for mothers to follow, the idea is to remind the parent that the baby is in the back seat of the car. One suggestion is to place the baby's diaper bag on the front seat next to the driver. It is expected that anyone getting off the car will notice the bag and remember the baby. Another option could be for the mother to keep her handbag on the back seat near the baby.

Technology now seems to have come up with useful devices too. One such device consists of two portions. One portion is latched on to the baby seat, the other portion could be kept along with car keys of the diver. When the driver walks away with his portion a sensor is activated. This devices senses the physical separation of the two portions, when the distance between the two portions exceeds a few feet, an alarm is sounded. The driver who just walked away from the car is alerted about the child left alone in the car.

Most people comment that forgetting children in cars is related to negligence on the part of elders. While this could be true or false, the important thing is to protect innocent infants and keep them away from danger. Help could come from sharpening ones memory or through advancements in technology. Get more information on this topic at:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Inkjet Printing Problems, It Is Often In The Head!!!

Inkjet printers have become very cheap, this is as far as the printer goes. Consumables like ink catrdiges have remained at high price levels, allowing printer manufacturers to survive. Users have found cheaper substitutes for replacing ink catridges.

There are a few options here, one of the popular ways to get more mileage out of printer catridges is to get the refilled. Such services are very popular in many Asian countries. You are sometimes sold a plastic bottle of the ink and a plastic syringe, feel free to refill the cartridge yourself!!!!. Another option is going for a fake catridge, this means that you get the brand label on the catridge pack but it is not a genuine product. The law is after such manufacturers but it seems that the law is far behind in catching up with them. Another popular offering is ink catridges is products made and labelled by third party manufacturers. They do not infringe on copyright issues and are therefore openly sold even in reputed I.T outlets.

The problem faced by many users is where the printer prints the document with bad colors, very light colors or fine lines throughout the document. Tell the computer technician about this and they will be quick to ask you whether you are using a genuine ink catridge! While it is true that the quality of the ink catridge could affect the printing quality, a simpler explanation can sometimes be found. Below is an explanation and a possible solution too.

Take the ink catridge out of the printer, notice that there are elongated spindles on the printer that go through corresponding holes in the printer catridge. These will remain fixed to the printed even after the ink catridge is taken off. At the tip of these spindles are several tiny holes, this is where the problem is most often observed. The holes seem to get clogged with dust or proably residue from dried ink. Cleaning these would in many cases solve the problem, if you take your printer to the service center discuss about this possibility and get the spindle cleaned. Do this before you pay a big bill for repair, a new printer or a 'genuine' ink catridge. The clog holes block the passage of fresh ink, this sometimes causes the ink to spill out of the ink catridge and into the printer.

While we do not assure you of success in every case, this is what we have learnt to smartly do in our office. Put some acetone (we use nailpolish remover!!!!) in a refillable perfume spray bottle. First, take the ink catridges out of the printer. Turn the printer off and take off the power connection from the socket. Look for the spindles and notice the tiny holes at the tip of each spindle. If you cannot notice either the spindles or the holes, forget trying any home remedy and take the printer to the service center. If you are lucky enough to notice the spindles and the tiny holes, spray some of the acetone on the spindles. With a soft cloth or earbuds, gently rub the tips of the spindles near the tiny holes. Spray a little more acetone and then put back the ink catridges. Now turn on the printer and try to print, use some rough paper as the first few prints might appear messy. A few printed pages later, you should be seeing a drastic improvement in print quality.

: The above process is recommended for users with fairly sound knowledge of computers and printers. The process is something that we have tried and found to be successful, it is not endorsed by any ink jet printer manufacturers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Now Use Your Cell Phone On A Flight!!

There was some great news recently, this related to the possibility of using a cell phone on a flight. Most flights had an inbuilt phone that could be used to make calls, the airlines charged a fortune for each call but the quality was terrible. It has now been confirmed that, passengers in many flights through Europe might be able to make phone calls using their cell phone. The report also mentioned that this could become a reality within the year 2008.

So are you wondering about those onboard instructions that asked you to turn off your cell phone when aboard? The airlines complained that the cell phone emitted signals that could disturb delicate flying instruments. Well the song in this case is a bit different, we are told that the new system of making calls on flight will get signals from satellites and not from ground stations. That is the safety factor being taken care off but, another problem persists.

Could you imagine the amount of noise that would be generated by people chatting over their cell phones during the flight. Most people would need to raise their voice to make up for the internal noise that is always present in an aircraft. This would get quite interesting as people chatted away in different languages, moods and on different subjects. One can imagine the chaos if, all the adjacent passengers in a row decided to make their cell call on flight. There does not seem to be any thought given to this issue so far, it is unlikely that any satisfactory solution might be found. This is a classic case of technology moving ahead of real life situations!

Wireless Network Security, The Glaring Issues

If you have ever used a wireless network, it is unlikely that you will ever want to go back and used a wired network. While there is no reason why you should not be pleased with the easy and comfort of a wireless network, keep a few important things in mind.

Extra ease
: If all you need to do to access your wireless network, is turn on your laptop, think again. There is no technology that can restrict the access of your wireless network just within your home or apartment. This would mean that a neighbor or anyone in the active vicinity of your wireless network could also access your network!

umb password: Most manufacurers of wireless network equipment prefer to make the process of installing and using the equipment very easy. Buyers are thrilled with a wireless network that can be set up in minutes. It sure does make the work of technical support easy by using a standard password across all the wireless equipment that is produced. But this could be your nightmare, every hacker would be aware of the standard passwords used by each equipment manufacturer. Get smart, refer to the manual that came with your wireless equipment and read the section dedicated to changing the password, change your password as soon as possible.

Always on: There was a time when internet access was expensive, billing was done based on hours or even minutes of usage. That changed and most Internet Service Providers today provide unlimited usage for a flat monthly fee. With this change most users leave their computers and wireless access equipment turned on, all the while. An always on network is a hackers dream, programmed algorithms are used to generate millions of passwords that can be released on to your network. Even the remote possibility of finding the right password can cause serious problems for innocent victims. It is a good idea to turn off your internet access equipment when the computer is not being used.

The technicals: If you are technically minded, you could add a few more chinks to your security armour. If you are not technically qualified, get professional help to implement a few security measures. These are very important for any wireless network so do not overlook them. Firstly, change the password for your wireless network device every 2 to 3 weeks. Find the settings of the equipment that controls the wireless device from 'broadcasting' itself and turn it off. Work on the MAC address and WEP security settings.

None of the above measures will bring 100% security to your wireless network. But that should not keep you away from implementing these and other measures. Network security is much like being a safe driver, you still know that a druken driver could lead you into an accident but, that does not stop you from being a safe driver. The people who could do damage to your network could be simple pranksters or professional hackers. The professionals know every trick of the trade but fortunately the simple pranksters outnumber them!