Thursday, August 07, 2008

Turning off security - utterly insane

Here's a rant that should strike a few chords with regular geeks out there. The number of PC and Mac applications which state in their installation instructions: "Make sure you do the following before you install the software:
Turn off any virus-protection and security software that you may have installed on your computer." - This is from installing Final Cut Express on a MacBook by the way but I've seen plenty of other examples on a PC.

I can understand why the developers state this: it's because anti-virus and firewall software might possibly get in the way of the bludgeoning installer that the developer has bodged together. Look, let's get one thing straight: you should NEVER turn off your firewall or anti-virus, unless you REALLY know what you're doing. For example, my router has a built-in firewall and I know it's turned on, but most users wouldn't know this and it's a really bad idea telling them to 'make sure' to turn off their security just to install an application. An unprotected Windows desktop will be filled with malware worms within a minute or two of being online.

The right solution is for the developer to test their installers on systems with various security solutions installed and then work round any problems. Risking the safety of users is just lazy, lazy, lazy.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"We took the wrong step years ago"

Or so sang Hawkwind in the 70s, along with plenty of others in the 'hippy' music business. And yes, I know it's wonderful to have hindsight and we're now almost 40 years down the line, but I do believe that it's not too late to save the environment, to (literally) save planet Earth.

There's no point in a long rant here, since you'll see appeals and reports from 'green' organisations almost every day in mainstream media. But I felt I wanted to comment on the latest little freebie from Nokia: we:offset, a Carbon footprint calculator, along with a facility to donate an appropriate amount to projects that aim to balance your footprint out. It's a worthy release, don't get me wrong, every little helps, and full credit to Nokia for good intentions.

But the trouble is that it is just that - little - and way too late in the grand scheme of things. We're talking here mainly about transport, i.e. the energy expended and Carbon footprint incurred by getting people from point A to point B. Am I alone in the world in reckoning that if we could just cut down on the amount people travel then the footprints would be smaller all round and we wouldn't need to feel guilty and then donate money to green projects.

I'm constantly appalled by how much time and energy is wasted by people travelling to work - yes, we can't all work from home [like I do], but imagine if home working was increased across the board by 10% or 20%? An awful lot of people sit in traffic jams for an hour to get to work, just to sit in front of a computer all day, or stand around chatting. Then back into the jams again to get home. Please, someone, anyone, tell me why these people couldn't do this from home on most days, armed with a PC or Mac and broadband?

And then when they finally get a holiday, do they stay at home? Nope. They sit in longer traffic jams to get to an airport and then they incur an even bigger Carbon footprint by flying - completely unnecessarily - to some Godforsaken part of the globe!

I'm all for the global village - but we can make it happen using modern communications. Let's cut down on use of planes and cars and feel good about ourselves and the planet at the same time.