The value of simplicity

I often tell people who are looking for a cheap computer that there are numerous costs beyond the purchase price to consider.

This week on 3 separate occasions this point has popped its head up.

Episode 1: A woman asked me for a recommendation for a new computer – she is an octogenarian that uses it only once or twice a year when she can’t use her Kindle to make travel arrangements.  She was unaware that she could go to websites on her Kindle Fire and be able to make flight reservations.  Instead of showing her an array of computer options, I showed her how to navigate on her tablet.  She breathed a sigh of relief that she would not have to learn a new computer operating system (her old computer was still running XP).

Episode 2: A gentleman that I helped purchase a mac mini about 3 years ago called with a problem that AppleCare had tried to help him fix but couldn’t.  In the interest of saving money at purchase time, we had gotten an inexpensive monitor from CompUSA to pair with his MacMini.  On hearing him describe his symptoms, I knew the solution was to change the input on the monitor, but he had no idea where the button for that was, and I had no idea without being in front of it to hunt for it.  He asked why he got that monitor and not an Apple one, and I reminded him that he (his daughter) didn’t want to spend as much as an Apple monitor would cost.

Epsiode 3: A coworker recently moved to an iMac and was wondering how she was going to be able to back up her computer – a matter of 3 clicks later, TimeMachine was enabled and she was impressed to learn that it would keep hourly backups so in case she accidentally deleted or modified a file, she would have access to recent changes in a very intuitive interface.

It is vitally important to consider the value of your peace of mind when looking at the cost of your new machine.  How much is your aggravation worth?

It’s super FREAKy

You may have heard about the FREAK exploit that has been talked about lately, and you might think you are secure using the bank app, or medical records app that you downloaded directly from the Apple Store or Google Play.

A new study just released has shown that isn’t quite the  case, as the FREAK exploit is based on the encryption keys that the server you connect to, not the App on the phone alone.

Ars Technica has an article about the study, and points out that users of apps should contact the vendors to inquire wether they have corrected the app to prevent FREAK attacks.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

1 – Upgrade your phone to the latest versions, as they have tried to prevent a vast majority of FREAK attacks in the latest versions.  The study found that even after the update on iOS, there were still 7 apps that were vulnerable.

2 – Don’t trust public wifi for secure transactions – you never know when the guy or girl next to you at the library is actually trying to hack your bank account.

Android Users – so you think your phone is off…..

The latest Android malware tricks users into thinking that their phone is off – then goes and makes calls, sends pictures, etc while it is in fake sleep.

Discovered by the researchers at AVG it fakes the user by hijacking the system shutdown command, so it can carry out its nefarious deeds without detection.