Posts

LastPass

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 After writing about passwordless logins I got an email from Lastpass . I have used Lastpass for years.  it is one of group of password manager products. These also include names like Dashlane and 1Password.  All share the same ambition - to manage your ever increasing number of website passwords. They use browser extensions and mobile apps to record your login and then automatically login later.  The password managers need one master password and then they can generate a complex password for you for every site you visit. You can then manage the security of being online with less fear of being hacked. Add in a second authentication method and your online accounts are getting more secure.  Lastpass has had a free option for years plus a paid premium tier. The free tier allowed both their PC browser extension to work in harmony with their mobile app. However, Lastpass is now owned by LogMeIn , the remote access company. This week they announced that you can choose to have your passwords

Face ID

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 A username and password has been the main way in which people use IT for decades. The username being your identity and the password being a secret that only you know. The username is often public. A typical example being your email address. Your password is private but depends on you choosing something that can't be guessed or is complex. The word "password" is not a good one. Essentially this means that the security of your personal data comes down to one word. Your account can be accessed by anyone who knows the password or can guess it or has software that can just try combinations of numbers and letters to guess it.  Its hardly surprising that many additional security methods have been added to the mix over the years. One popular addition is a Personal Identification Number (PIN) . This typically has 4 to six digits. Another is a second factor or multi-factor authenticator . This could be a key fob or app on your phone. Another is a one time password (OTP) sent to y

Cashless

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 I was thinking about the last time I used cash. It was a while ago. The last time I went into a bank was to pay in a random cheque someone sent to me. I can't remember the last time I wrote a cheque and I no longer have a chequebook.  Statistics show most people in Britain pay for their daily needs with contactless payment. It is now looking at increasing the limit to deal with the demise of cash. ATMS are now harder to find . Bank branches are closing. Some towns don't have any kind of bank branch. Online only app banking exists with Monzo and Revolut , to take two examples. FinTech, the meeting of technology and finance, is definitely a think and not just part of startup culture. On the edge of this is the more exotic world of crypto currency and Bitcoin . In what we call the developed world the fastest moving countries towards the cashless society is in the Nordic regions of Europe. Sweden may abolish physical cash by 2023. Sweden is using a combination of NFC technology a

Thinking about Instant Messaging and WhatsApp

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I have been thinking a lot about instant messaging. IM today is something that has evolved from all kinds of “chat” applications over decades. The Internet had Internet Relay Chat (IRC) . Proprietary services such as Prestel in the UK had chat systems. It has a long online history including Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) in the 1980s. The idea of Instant Messaging today comes from the competition between three services. America Online Instant Messaging (AIM) , Yahoo Instant Messenger , and Microsoft Instant Messenger (MSN Messenger) . All three slugged it out for top position in IM on the PC.  In the early 2000s a new kid on the block was Skype . Eventually taken over by Microsoft. Microsoft then closed down it’s successful MSN Messenger and replaced it with Skype. Although it seems that this didn’t really add much to Microsoft’s usage figures. MSN Messenger had built a use case that wasn’t really replicated by the Skype feature set.  Mobile threw up some new contenders. Google kept inve

Privacy

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  This year I finally stopped procrastinating, stopping, changing and not deciding. I fully returned to the Apple mobile phone ecosystem after ten years. The last time I really used an Apple Iphone was the Iphone 4. Now I have an Apple Iphone 12 mini . To be fair I dodged between an Iphone 8 Plus and a Nokia 8.1 for a year. Switching back and forward without really deciding which way to go.  There were a few reasons at finally spending real money but one was privacy.  Privacy doesn't mean secrecy. I don't need my private life put in a security bubble. People are entitled to privacy. It's not about hiding stuff. Its much more the simple concept that you should be able to have a life without being watched. Governments and companies should serve citizens and customers.  The old idea that if you have got nothing to hide you have nothing to fear is untrue. Its nonsense. The word "hide" implies concealment. Privacy is about a person being able to freely choose how to l

Cheating

 I cheated. My MacBook project was doing well but I had to go too far.  My £200 experiment in updating an 11 year old Mac ended with me using a version of MacOS Catalina . Until a week ago this was the latest one. You could use a website run by a developer to "hack" a copy that would work on my ancient Mac. However, it was unsupported. The IT lesson is always that "unsupported" is not the same as "doesn't work". Supported means, in this context, that Apple will update the OS with a variety of ongoing security updates and maybe even a feature update. This latter possibility being unlikely.  The supported OS was High Sierra . This is the 2017 MacOs. To be fair none of this is important to me specifically. Getting a really cheap 11 year Mac working was the exercise, not what OS was installed. The fact is that I got quite a few browser crashes and, from what I could see, a considerable performance hit from trying to get it all working. I am off work and lo

Macbook Air M1

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  The Apple M1 is the first Apple Silicon on a PC . Back in 2005 Apple moved to Intel chips. This year they announced they were going to make their own PC chips based on ARM (Advanced Risc Machines) .  ARM is a design. A reference. It is a reduced instruction set. The world of the PC has been dominated by Intel and AMD. They have developed powerful chips that have been put in PCs and servers by default. The instruction set is the way in which the silicon chips process data. Intel have used complex instructions that have allowed increasing speed. ARM designed reduced instruction sets. The idea being that an action that occurs with an Intel chip may take one instruction can happen on ARM with multiple instructions. This isn't a new thing. ARM has been around since the 1980s.  Over the years Intel has relied on computers tethered to mains electrical power. Their processors have required more power to execute complex instructions and the higher wattage has created heat. So Intel based