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Monday Morning Technologist
Firefox, the Cloud, Outlook and more...here comes the Monday Morning Technologist...
So the SuddenLink Saga finally came to a satisfactory conclusion; though not without a few bumps in the road. As you may have read previously we moved to a new place and had scheduled SuddenLink (our local cable Internet provider) to come out and do an install the day before we moved in. Well, they were confused and didn't show up. So they appologised and told me they'd come install at their next opportunity...8 days later. Needless to say I was less than pleased.
After many calls, e-mails and tweets I finally, 2 days before the expected appointment, got a voicemail around 1PM saying that they had shifted some things around and could do the install that day, before 4PM, and I was to call back to confirm. I called back just before 2PM but got her voicemail...and her box was full. Thinking she might just be away from her desk or on another call I called back 10 minutes later. Full voicemail. 10 minutes later, same. 10 minutes later, same.
Then I got this call: "Hi, this is Scott from SuddenLink. You have an install appointment from 1-3 today. I'm at your house now and there's nobody here." Gee Scott, this is the first anybody told me about having an appointment between 1-3. I'm about 15 minutes away but on the way home now, can you wait? "O.K., I have some things I need to do on the outside of the house first anyhow." And so it went. I got home, Scott was doing his thing, and an hour or so later I finally had Internet service at the new house.
So, all's well that ends well, I suppose. I like SuddenLink's product, it's generally reliable - if not especially fast - and reasonably priced. Clearly they're having some serious customer service growing pains in the wake of their purchase of NPG Cable (our former provider). Maybe once they get all those bugs ironed out...well, then we'll have a lot of flat bugs.
Speaking of Not Especially Fast
It's a bit disappointing that currently the best you can do in Flagstaff is 15Mbps for residential Internet service, and that's if you're lucky. I only get about 11Mbps here in Country Club. The local CenturyLink/Qwest rep tells me that they actually HAVE rolled out their 40Mbps service to some parts of Flagstaff but I've yet to meet anybody who can get it and the SuddenLink guys, not surprisingly, expressed some doubt about it.
Hopefully, in time, we'll get on par with many other parts of the country and be able to get reasonably priced 20Mbps+ service.
Are you a Firefox user? Click over to a new tab and type "About:permissions" in the address box. Go ahead, we'll wait. What you'll see is a "secret" configuration screen that lets you access the security/permissions settings for every site you visit - including stored usernames and passwords, whether pop-ups or location information are allowed, what cookies are stored, etc. If you want to get pretty granular about your security that's a way to do it.
My other Firefox security tip has to do with add-ins. First off...keep them to a minimum. Some folks load Firefox up with every Add-in they can find. Not only is that potentially insecure but it also tends to cause Firefox to become bloated, slow and unstable. There is, however, one add-in you should consider installing for better performance and security: NoScript. NoScript will block scripts from running on pages you visit. You can choose to allow specific scripts either temporarily or permenantly. You can also choose to allow entire sites either temporarily or permenantly. It can take a few days for you to fine tune the permissions to be the way you want them to be, but in time you'll get it so that the sites and scripts you want run fine, but everything else is blocked. That makes the web generally faster and safer for you.
"Cloud Security Feares Exaggerated says Federal CIO"
In this article Federal CIO Vivek Kundra says that he thinks fears of Cloud security issues are overblown. What's important to understand from this somewhat misleading statement is:
- Many of the systems that the government are putting "in the Cloud" are already public data. They're not medical records or sensitive financial information. It's already stuff you can log into a number of federal sites and see.
- The systems the government is putting in the Cloud that are sensitive are being put into a PRIVATE Cloud. Either a federal data center that they own or a special, segregated, government-only section of a private Cloud provider's system. They're not going to be on the same server with everybody else. (they'd better not be!) If you're the federal government you have the leverage to get your data stored in a pseudo-private cloud that way. If you're Ford Motor Company or Chevron you have that kind of leverage. If you're Joe's Auto Body or the Law Offices of Mitchell McDeere you probably don't have that kind of leverage.
- Somebody tell Sony that Cloud security fears are exaggerated. Or Citibank. Or Epsilon. Or....the week doesn't pass that I don't get a bulletin across my desk of some major company that got hacked and lost confidential information. Successful attacks against Cloud-based services are not a theory. They're not a Hollywood script. They're not paranoia. They're happening every day. To dismiss them as "Exaggerated" is irresponsible in my opinion.
In the words of Wilford Brimley: "I get paid to be suspicious when I got nothin' to be suspicious about."
Troubleshooting Microsoft Outlook
Having problems with Outlook? Maybe this will help: Troubleshooting Outlook - http://www.officeforlawyers.com/outlook/tsol.htm.
I've started to prune my Facebook friends list just a bit. Over the years I've accumulated a LOT of Facebook friends, and a surprising number of them are people I've never met. In some cases they're rally "friends of friends" or, worse, "Facebook acquaintances of business acquaintances." Since I'm trying to refocus my personal Facebook page to be more on my family and friends - more social - and I'm using Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn more for business I'm starting to "unfriend" some of these folks that I've never met, don't know, and who are purely business acquaintances.
We do have a company Facebook page, however, and you can find that at: http://www.facebook.com/rolandschorr. You're welcome to "Like" us there if you want to.