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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

ISO14001 and Rising Fuel Prices

Unwelcome as it is, the rise in petrol and diesel  has some environmental benefits; the average speed on motorways has apparently fallen with the attendant reduction in emissions. People are thinking twice before using their cars for leisure activities; car sharing is becoming more popular. All these reductions in fuel usage will help our carbon footprint.

The spiralling cost of fuel has also prompted motor manufacturers to move to more efficient engines and hybrid vehicles.  When Rolls Royce announces that they are to produce a fuel efficient hybrid car it is obvious that the message is getting through. 

Pure electric cars are not yet a viable alternative and the time to recharge after a relatively short journey is off-putting.  In some cases an overnight stop is required to complete a journey.

The hydrogen fuelled car may fit the bill but the sheer lack of refuelling points is critical to the uptake of this new fuel option.  Hydrogen is also explosive when mixed with air and the Hindenburg disaster showed just how dangerous this can be.

Readers of my blog will know that I drive a Honda Hybrid this is my third hybrid and I am very pleased with it; no road tax, 50 mpg and exemption from the London Congestion Charge (at least until 2012 when the rules change again), but even with these advantages fuel costs are a  real burden.

Let us hope that motor manufacturers faced with the decline in fossil fuels and increased costs will accelerate their R & D to find another cost efficient method of powering our personal transport.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Biometric Security

It is a fact that we consultants get through quite a few laptops each year.  They get broken or dropped or in extreme cases both, particularly if they lock-up. 

I previously had a netbook, which is great for collecting email when on the move, light to transport and small in size. Where it falls down is the small screen and keyboard which makes working on anything other than simple word processing a complete pain.  Its very small size also meant that additional data storage, either SD cards or USB sticks were necessary to store any decent amount of data.  A security nightmare if not handled correctly.  I must say that the netbook was a rebound from the HP 19 inch laptop I had before that; the large size was easy to use but it was very heavy to carry, especially on aeroplanes.

I decided to go for something in-between and plumped for a Lenovo 410i ThinkPad.  Easy to use and I don’t get a hernia carrying it around.  A good feature is the Lap-top "airbag system" which protects the hard drive from damage due to hard bumps, etc.   It also has an impressive security system which includes a fingerprint scanner.  It requires a scan of a fingerprint to power the system on and access any files.

I started off using the index finger of my right hand but after doing some DIY at home I noticed that it rejected my finger swipe for ages before finally accepting it.  It turns out that the reader is very sensitive and my finger had suffered from the DIY and would not scan.   Armed with this knowledge I decided to use the index finger of my left hand instead.  This is Ok except first thing in the morning when obviously, my hands are a bit swollen and again the fingerprint is rejected.  Putting my hand in cold water seems to do the trick.

I am a firm believer that security is a compromise.  Extreme security means you do nothing but very securely and lax security means that you do everything but it is risky.  Something in between is needed.

I will stick with the fingerprint reader as first level security and then use my favourite encryption system, Folder Lock, on my data.  In my business I cannot afford to lose data and the small inconvenience of repeated scanning is only a mild annoyance and gives me some peace of mind.

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