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Highlights from the Flying Doctor's logbook

Welcome to the
July issue of highlights from the flights.

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The Flying Doctor specialises in fast response to computer problems for homes, people running business from home and in small offices.

Call The Flying Doctor because we will sort out your computer, web and network issues in a businesslike, sensible way. But, if there’s no affordable cure and it’s cheaper for you to buy a new computer, we will say so.

With 30 years’ experience of fixing computers, there isn’t much that we haven’t seen before. But we’re honest too - if we can’t fix it, we’ll tell you!

Remember we offer free email and telephone support and you can read our collection of
free guides

We’re so sure that we’ll sort out your problems that we say:
if The Flying Doctor doesn’t sort your problem then you don’t pay!

Call 01865 748197
for a fast response to your computer problems.

 

This month we look at:
Wireless security

We hear a lot about this, but exactly why should we be concerned?

Firstly, wireless spreads out and it's hard for you to control where. So if your wireless is unsecured other people can:

use your broadband (maybe for illegal things);

read your network traffic;

get onto your network and computer to take stuff or leave stuff.

Which means you are not in control. So security seems a good idea! But what security?

The most common for domestic use are WEP and WPA.

WEP uses passkeys to encrypt the data over the network. As it is a random string of characters it is quite hard to guess and logon to the network. However, it uses the passkey to encrypt the network traffic, so is easy to use software to find the passcode.

WPA uses a plain text password that is easier to remember, using this to generate new WEP passkeys to transmit the message, where the passkeys keep changing.

So WPA is more secure.

Next change the name of your wireless network to something non-standard. Why leave the default name as a clue for the attacker?


Really deleting data
So you've deleted the file and emptied the recycling bin. So that's that then!

Well, no. Deleting a file doesn't delete it. Imagine a town full of buildings - all the buildings are files on your computer. When you 'delete' a file you are just putting a sign up saying the building is empty and the site is available for redevelopment.

At some random point in the future, the computer might knock the house down and build a new one. Until then, the building is still there.

Until you empty it, you can easily go into the recycle bin and restore the file, you are just occupying the house again.

When you empty the recycle bin, you knock the house down but the foundations and rubble are still there. So someone could come along and find out what was there, a bit like Time Team on the TV.

Only when your computer saves a file to the same place does it clear the site and build a new house, deleting all traces of the old one.

This important if you have a confidential document that you want to erase for ever and, even more so, when you get rid of the computer or disc.

If you really want to make a file irretrievable, you can get file wiping software, which is a bit like a bulldozer and clears all the sites marked as ready for redevelopment. Plenty of free stuff out there. But be careful that you don't wipe the whole disc and knock down the whole city. You just want to erase the free space.

Domain scams
They've been doing the rounds now for several years, but it's worth reminding you of two common ways of extracting money from people by creating worry about their domain name.

I'm not sure what the technical description for this is, but I'll go with 'trying it on'.

1, Official looking letters saying that your domain is up for renewal.

It probably is, but this letter isn't from the people from whom you bought your domain name. Usually this domain will be renewed automatically for you and currently cost under £10. You'll get an email.

Ignore the letter if:

  • it's a physical letter or invoice! And if:

  • you do not recognise the company it's from;

or

  • it asks for loads of money;

2. Phone call or email that someone is attempting to register a domain name similar to yours

and you can get it first for only £200 or so!

If you want it, go to the people you get domain names from and buy it for £10 or less.

If you don't, then forget it.

Making your output look like you meant!
It's very frustrating when we spend ages creating a great looking document on our computer only for it to look strange when we send it to someone else or print it out. Here are a few tips:

sending to someone else.

If you are a habitual MS Office user, then you will probably send files in Office format (.doc, .XLS and so on). Convenient and people can edit the files themselves. But your carefully laid out document goes all over the shop on their screen.. Why?

It's all down to the default printer. This gives Windows the page sizes to use, margins and so on. Now if it's the same printer then fine, but if it is a different model, then the other computer will use a different page length, margins and so on. That's why your lovely work of art appears on their screen as so much rubbish.

If layout is important to you, then convert the document to Acrobat .pdf format ( there are lots of free programs) and send it as that format. Then it looks just like you wanted.

Printing it off.

Three issues here:

Colour format. Screens use additive colour (all colours together make White), also called RGB, while printers use subtractive colour (all colours together make Black) known as CYMK. These use different ways to make the colour that you see and can never match perfectly. A bit like the picture on the TV screen against one in the TV guide. So it will never be perfect and you have to adapt to it.

Monitor calibration. A bit of a luxury for some, but vital if you do work where exact colour is important. Most monitors are actually quite poor at colour reproduction so will never give you an accurate print. In fact this is an issue with sending your work to someone else as their monitor will be different. Photographers spend months getting their whole processing chain calibrated for accurate colour but you can find some free utilities on the web to at least get you somewhere close.

Size. What looks great on the monitor comes out small and confused on the page. Think bigger text than you think and set the page zoom in the program to make what you see the same size as the real thing. And I don't just mean 100%, hold the real page up and adjust to 96% if you have to.

Bleed. Your A4 page looks great on the screen but is missing 5 mm or so all round when you print it? That's the bleed. Allow for it when you design your poster!



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