03 December 2010

Browsers used commercially across the globe

Well, excluding China, or IE6 would be even higher than the extraordinary 8% it still manages in late 2010. I genuinely have difficulty using even IE8 now as I use it so seldom and I'm about to make the wonderful RockMelt adaptation of Chrome my default browser at home and on laptops.
Stats courtesy of NetMarketShare.

13 November 2010


Yes, you can have the X Factor Voiceover Man, Peter Dickson, introduce you at your next lecture, presentation, speech or whatever. Not easily spotted on his site is a small item that takes you to this page where you can download something he's done already or get him to say what you want (within reason).

Small price to pay for a bit of fun!

1 minute videos for absolute beginners, from Auntie

BBC Webwise have put lots of little videos on-line which answer those little questions you may know the answers to but perhaps some of your students, or your Mum, doesn't. Some seem a little pointless and one even confused me more but most are cute and you may be able to use some of them in a lesson or something.

They're all available at this link.

Here's the list:

  • How do I use a digital camera?
  • How do I stop getting spam?
  • How can I make free phone calls online?
  • What is the internet?
  • What is a firewall?
  • How do I prevent ID fraud?
  • How can I build my own website?
  • What is a search engine?
  • What is social networking?
  • What is podcasting or vodcasting?
  • What is online shopping?
  • Buying a computer
  • What is e-mail?
  • What are computer viruses?
  • How do I download files?
  • What is BBC iPlayer?

As I said, you'll know the answers but FAQICA has to broaden its appeal a bit and the Firesheep post was a bit heavy. Just keeping in with my dumber readers.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p009sbnn

25 October 2010

Firesheep. Possibly the best web security learning tool!

So many other people have written about this new simple application that I won't go into detail. TechCrunch do that much better than me anyway. If you've managed to miss the news then there's a simple little tool available that will not only show you who in your vicinity is using an open wireless network but enable you to log in to their facebook, twitter, amazon accounts using their log-in (and there's a massively long list of more).

If you fancy trying it out the you need Firefox 3.6+ as Firesheep is an extension to that browser. The extension doesn't appear obvious in a search for Firefox extensions which is probably wise and I'm not going to publish it here. It isn't that difficult to find, though. Windows users will also need to install Winpcap first. Once you've installed the Firefox extension a sidebar is available which displays all the icons and screen names of people using unsecured sites around you. Click on one and you're free to run around their pages! Hacking my youngest could manage while reading Noddy Goes Shopping.

Being unusually responsible, here's a link to suggestions for another Firefox extension Force-TLS which will help you protect several (but not all!) of your accounts. The TechCrunch article author, Alexia Tsotsis accepts that this is of no help to the vast majority who'll be using Internet Explorer (or Google Chrome, Opera, Safari etc. etc.) but promises to publish more on that soon. Watch that space.

graphic by Dave Hoffman

Perhaps this will be the wake-up call we all need to be more careful about our on-line activity. I have no doubt that there will be patches and adjustments galore in the background, even attempts not to frighten us all with this story in mainstream news items, and a lot of people are very concerned to fix things today and it will all go quiet soon enough. In the meantime, though, just give it a try and I promise you it will be the most effective learning experience on the topic of internet security short of being fleeced for a few grand by a dodgy Luton fuel station till operator.

01 October 2010

In no more than 255 words . . .

Many assignments still take the form of [yawn] essays and despite wondering at the start how on earth you'll ever type 2999 words it's not long before you're tearing your hair out and desperately trying to figure out how to get it down to the 3000 limit (or whatever the tutor has probably set in a totally arbitrary manner. "Oh, it's Thursday, let's make 'em do 5000")

You probably already know about the Word Count option on the Tools menu, but it would be much more useful to have a constantly updated word count displayed in the top of the document (or even in the header or footer) so that you can keep an eye on it. Word has a way to allow you to do this, but not many people know about it. To add a word count, you need to insert a field code as follows:

Place the cursor at the position in the document that you’d like to add the word count (e.g. at the beginning of the document, under the title).
Click Insert > Quick Parts > Field (Insert > Field prior to Word 2007)
Scroll down the list of available fields and choose NumWords. Click OK.
The word count will be inserted. To update the count after adding more text, right-click on it and choose Update Field.

No, that doesn't help actually write the essay I know, but gives you something to do while you're typing.

Another useful tip from the good people at Windows Secrets.

18 September 2010

Pin a removable drive to your Windows 7 taskbar for fast access

The advent of huge amounts of storage on tiny memory sticks and portable hard drives that are now denominated in TB tends to result in us keeping more and more stuff that we might regularly access on them, plugging them in to whichever pc or laptop wherever we happen to be. 

This article from the nice people at Windows Secrets should help make it a bit easier to get at those external drive files on equipment you use regularly.

Windows 7’s ability to ‘pin’ icons to the taskbar allows you to quickly access a program by clicking on its taskbar icon, even if it's not running. This quick access feature should also allow you to rapidly access an external hard drive, but unfortunately the process isn’t as simple as dragging the drive’s icon to the taskbar, as you would an application – doing this actually adds a shortcut to Windows Explorer. In fact the process is much more complicated, but it is possible to add a quick shortcut to the taskbar as follows:

  • Right-click on a blank area of your desktop and choose New > Text File.
  • Name the new file DRIVE-SHORTCUT.EXE, taking care to change the .TXT ending to .EXE.
  • Press [Enter] and click Yes to confirm the suffix change.
  • Right-click on DRIVE-SHORTCUT.EXE and choose Pin to Taskbar.
  • Right-click on the new icon on the taskbar, right-click on DRIVE-SHORTCUT.EXE from the pop-up menu and choose Properties.
  • Click on the Shortcut tab and change the Target and Start in fields to the drive letter of your removable drive followed by a colon (e.g. E:\).
  • Click OK. When you now click on your taskbar shortcut you will be taken directly to the removable drive.
Note: if you don’t see the .TXT ending in step 2, go to Start > Computer > Organize >Folder and Search Options. Click the View tab and untick Hide Extensions For Known File Types then click OK.

16 September 2010

Icons from IE9 site

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