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David Harper
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Journal

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With more and more "real world" activity moving onto computers and the Internet or being supplemented by digital tools, parents need to manage the risks that are part of this new medium. This handy eBook will help you to understand the risks and address them in a constructive manner.

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Click here for more information.

Posted by: David Harper - 19/01/10 @ 8:02PM

There has been a lot of commentary about Microsoft Internet Explorer over the past few days, after a number of European governments issued security advisories regarding IE.

In most cases, it is simply not necessary to use another browser for security reasons. Internet Explorer is generally no better or worse than any other modern browser. Hackers target browsers where there is money (or intelligence if one is a spy agency) to be had. If Internet Explorer were to suddenly disappear in favour of Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, then the new majority browser would be in the headlines instead. Mozilla Firefox already has major security issues on a regular basis, as its market share grows rapidly.

The bottom line here is that every web browser has security problems, often major ones, but because Internet Explorer has the biggest market share, it's the poster child for security breaches.

As long as your computer has the latest release of Internet Explorer, version?8, you have an adequate security application installed, and you install Automatic Updates as soon as they are available, you're unlikely to be seriously affected.

However, there are a few exceptions:

  • If you have an interest in sensitive topics, particularly regarding anything political, and have a web-based email account such as GMail or Hotmail (ordinary ISP email addresses are less likely to be an issue)
  • If you use high-risk websites such as MP3 & movie sharing, BitTorrent, pirated/cracked software, pornography etc.
  • If you only have a free antivirus program and not a paid one

In those cases, you should consider the Opera?browser, which is so little-used that it is far less likely to suffer from a major security incident -- nobody cares enough about Opera to bother attacking it.

It's pretty common knowledge that when Microsoft tried to replace Windows XP with Windows Vista, things didn't go quite as planned. When it went on sale in 2007, Windows Vista required an expensive new PC to run properly, and didn't work with a lot of XP-era software to boot. Although things gradually improved since the initial launch, Windows Vista has often had a bad reputation.

Fortunately Microsoft hasn't taken this disaster lying down. Julie Larson-Green, who was in charge of development for the widely acclaimed Office 2007 suite, was appointed to oversee the creation of Windows 7.?As luck would have it, Larson-Green has succeeded in fixing Vista. Windows 7 is everything that Vista should have been - faster, easier to use, and much more compatible with old applications. Finally there is a viable replacement for Windows XP.

So, should you upgrade? If you are running Windows Vista and are reasonably happy with it, my advice is not to fix what isn't broken - stay with Vista. Likewise, if you're happy with your existing Windows XP computer, there's no desperate need to upgrade just yet, although you should be aware that Microsoft will likely retire support for Windows XP in the middle of next year. On the other hand, if you put off purchasing a new desktop or laptop because you didn't want to touch Vista, or if you have Vista and hate it, Windows 7 is definitely for you.

If you have a Vista computer and wish to upgrade to Windows 7, it's more than likely that you will not need to purchase any new hardware. However, if you are running Windows XP, you may need to purchase a new PC as part of your move to Windows 7. If you do need a new computer, I recommend that you consider business-grade machines from either Dell or Hewlett Packard, whether your purchase is for professional or personal use. In addition, always purchase a three year warranty for peace of mind.

The good news is that you probably don't need a supercomputer to run Windows 7, which will run much more comfortably on mainstream hardware than Windows Vista ever could. However, if you need to run old XP applications, you may under some circumstances need to purchase a computer capable of running Windows XP Mode, which starts a "virtual" copy of Windows XP on top of Windows 7, and therefore requires a more capable machine.

As always, be sure to contact me before purchasing any new hardware or software for the latest tips and advice.

To take a look at the latest Dell machines pre-loaded with Windows 7, visit http://www.dell.com.au/

Posted by: David Harper - 13/07/09 @ 11:18PM

My new business entity, Akania Pty Ltd (ACN 137 621 400) has officially launched. From now on, all of my services will be offered through Akania. As promised, the Fees?page has been updated with my new fees and charges.

I have also moved my small business support work into a new entity, Workgroup Technology Solutions. As of July 1, all of my business customers will deal with this new entity.

If you have any questions, please contact me?for more information.

Posted by: David Harper - 02/06/09 @ 1:42AM

Early in the new financial year, I will be formalising my business structure. At that time, my fees and charges will change.

Here are the highlights:

  • All fees will increase slightly
  • A callout charge will be introduced for on-site work, replacing the current $10 surcharge for the first on-site hour
  • Off-site work will now be charged at standard rates
  • GST will be payable for all Australian customers
  • All existing business customers paying personal rates will now be charged the applicable business rates
  • All fees and charges will be indexed and will increase every six months, roughly?in line with inflation

I will be talking to all of my business customers regarding the new structure of my fees, and new discounted packages, during the next few weeks. If you are a personal customer and require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Posted by: David Harper - 24/03/09 @ 5:04PM

Microsoft has just announced the general availability of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8). Like most Microsoft product releases in recent years, version 8 aims to improve the overall security of the Internet Explorer browser. IE8 also includes a variety of new features, including Suggested Sites, which recommends web pages you might be interested in based on your browsing history, and Compatibility View, which aims to improve the way Internet Explorer handles old or poorly designed web sites.

So should you upgrade to IE8? My limited testing of the new browser suggests that you should hold off for a few weeks, and give Microsoft some more time to sort out the bugs that are contained within the first general release. However, if you are still using Internet Explorer version 6 on Windows XP, you should immediately upgrade to version 7 by using Microsoft Update. Version 6 is now very outdated and highly insecure. To determine the version of Internet Explorer you are using, click Help > About Internet Explorer.

Even if you use Firefox, Safari, or some other browser, because Internet Explorer is highly integrated into Windows, its flaws can cause security problems even if you don't use IE for everyday browsing.

If you require any assistance upgrading Internet Explorer, please don't hesitate to contact me.

My two initial contributions for SME Server have now been added to the contribs repository. SME Server is an easy to use Linux-based server?solution for small business. It includes web, email, and file sharing functions, as well as a range off add-on "contributions" that extend its functionality.

PHP5

This contrib allows you to install PHP version 5 alongside PHP version 4, which is the default in SME Server 7.x. PHP allows you to run certain web-based applications on your server. Unlike a full upgrade to PHP5, installation of this contrib will not affect your ability to install future updates to SME Server 7.x. PHP 4 remains the default version.

For more information, visit http://wiki.contribs.org/PHP5.

SiteX

SiteX is an easy to use Content Management System (CMS) that enables you to create a dynamic website without programming. It comes with components such as a journal (blog), photo gallery, calendar and forum, as well as a number of themes that can be customised from within the administration interface. The site's components can be enabled and disabled from the administration interface if required, making it easy to cut out any parts you do not require.

For more information, visit http://wiki.contribs.org/SiteX.

Posted by: David Harper - 07/03/09 @ 1:44AM

Welcome to my website! I have now completed all of the initial pages for both?individual and business customers.

Please also be sure to visit my Fees page for information about my current charges.

I will be adding more content as time permits.

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