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Monday, 20 October 2008

Environmental Measures and Common Sense

Readers of this blog will know that I always advocate environmentally friendly measures and it is becoming increasingly clear that these measures are becoming the norm rather that the exception.

Measure 1 - I drive a Hybrid car - Not only does this car give me a good miles per gallon figure, it is comfortable, I pay only £15 per year road tax and I am exempt from congestion charges;

Measure 2 - By reducing my speed from 70 to 65 miles per hour, I have found that I now get between 55-60 miles per gallon. With fuel cost now becoming a significant expense this is a considerable saving.

Measure 3 - By reducing the thermostat by one to two degrees my heating bill will be reduced; it may not offset the huge rises in energy costs but it must go part way.

Measure 4 - I now turn off lights that are really not needed during the day; I open the blinds to let in natural daylight. The savings may not be great but contribute to then overall saving even with energy saving lighting.

Measure 5 - No equipment is left on standby; to do so would be wasting energy and money.

Measure 6 - If I feel cold; I put on a jumper rather than turning up the heat; I am often staggered to see people in summer clothes complaining about feeling chilly.

Measure 7 - I have changed Banks- not only because my previous Bank gave me such rotten service but my new Bank is within walking distance. No Car needed.

Measure 8 - We recycle as much as we can to reduce our impact on the environment.

Measure 9 - We buy in season food to reduce then air miles that our food travels; some of our food has travelled 10's of miles rather than hundreds.

Measure 10 - We buy our goods and services locally, wherever we can to reduce our carbon footprint.

Am I a crank, or just gloating at saving money (and the Planet)? I suspect that 10 years ago I may have been considered a crank but nowadays I am perfectly normal, and richer.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Data Security & You

There has been considerable interest, and dismay, at the number of times sensitive data has been lost or stolen, indeed the amount of data lost seems directly proportional to the technological advances in devices and perhaps the stupidity or arrogance of their owners.

Desktop computers - these are sitting on our desks giving access to vast amounts of data, yet many people get up and leave their desks without a thought to the risk they are taking. I always lock my desk computer before leaving it, even for a few minutes, because I understand that a moments inattention could put my data at risk and seriously damage my reputation as a security conscious individual.

Laptop computers - these are becoming smaller and smaller. My latest acquisition has an 8.9 inch screen, no hard drive and is small enough to slip into my briefcase. The down side of this is that it is even easier to lose. I encrypt my data so that would not be a problem but the loss of the thing would be very inconvenient. The data is, however, safe.

Memory sticks and SDHC cards - probably the greatest threat to data known today. These tiny devices can hold giga bytes of data and yet can slip easily into a pocket. These devices should always be encrypted, but sadly many are not. All my data sticks have the ability to lock and encrypt data.

Mobile phones and PDA devices - most people do not activate the pin number lock to prevent unauthorised access and a s such they risk having their phone numbers taken, their email contacts list taken and if secret pin numbers and passwords are stored, then these are at risk. Add to that the ability of many devices to access business based systems and email remotely then it is easy to see what a major security threat these unprotected devices can pose.

I use a pin to protect my PDA and have set a pin to protect the sim card as well. If my device was lost or stolen, I can send it a text message which locks the PDA and no amount of fiddling will unlock it, even if a new sim card is inserted and the factory defaults enabled.

A recent survey mounted by the BBC shows just how many electronic devices are left in cabs. The number is staggering. The value of data and equipment is vast.

Moral - keep devices safe, encrypt data, activate pin numbers on phones and PDAs.

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