October 2017 - Information & Security Notices

This page offers general news on the changing development in the evolving world of technology, as well as security advice. I've also added tidbits and news items from around the world of technology. Hope you enjoy them.




3 Things Grandparents Can Teach Their Kids About Online Safety

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I know that narrative usually goes that seniors are tech novices and young folks can hook up your home theater in five minutes. And it is true that younger folks are generally more comfortable with devices. They can figure out how to get from here to there on your smartphone in ten seconds or how to get Netflix set up on your tablet. But that doesn’t mean they have a great deal of wisdom about using the Internet.

In fact, studies show that folks over 55 tend to have much safer online habits that people in their teens and twenties. So Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle, or guy in the office, here are three things the whippersnappers could learn from you.

1. Lock your devices and have strong passwords. Kids are on their phones so much, they hate to have to stop for even a minute. A lot of them don’t bother to lock their phones, even though modern phones can make it super-simple with fingerprint, facial recognition, and iris scan logins.

And when they do have passwords or PINS, they’ll often go for super-simple and easy to remember ones, and worse – use the same password across all their accounts and devices. Remind them of the importance of not only locking their device but having secure log-ins and a different log-in on every account.

2. Use good security software and keep it up to date. Like I said, many of these kids spend most of their time on a smartphone, so they haven’t learned good habits for maintaining a laptop. They may have one they need for work or school, but they might not take care of it.

PCs need a good third-party security software plus malware protection. And that security software needs to be kept up-to-date. A young friend of mine let the trial security software that came with his laptop expire. Helping to remove all the junk on his PC was a real treat. It also doesn’t hurt to put a security app on that precious smartphone.

3. Don’t share too much. While you’d think kids today would be cynical, they are actually probably more vulnerable in many ways than older folks. They’re used to meeting people online and striking up friendships. It used to be that people you hadn’t met online stayed firmly in the category of “strangers.” That’s just not the case these days. Younger people are more likely to share private information or even take off to visit people they’ve never met before.

They also tend to share a lot about their lives online. The type of information people can use to find you, stalk you, and scam you. Many of them need to learn how to set some boundaries between what’s private and what’s for public consumption via social media.




Drones Are Going To Change Your Life – Part 1

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UAV. Maybe you have heard about this acronym or maybe not. It means Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. These are often referred to as Drones. The main characteristic all UAVs have in common in is the absence of a human pilot. Their flight is controlled by an onboard flight controller, which includes a main processor and a bunch of sensors (accelerometers, gyroscopes and more depending on the application).

Recently multirotor UAVs have drawn a lot of attention from businesses. These fly more or less on the same principle as helicopters but they have 3 (or more) propellers. They are relatively easy to use, cheap and they can act like sensors which can move in 3D space.

A quadrotor UAV used at INRIA (A French research center)

The last sentence should give you a hint on why multirotor UAVs will change our lives in the next 10 years. The main fields of application for these vehicles are:

• Movies/photography
• Archeology and mapping of archaeological sites
• Surveillance
• Search and rescue in post-catastrophic events
• Agriculture

Let’s spend few words on each of these categories.

In movie and TV production they already changed your life. Most of the nice aerial shots you see these days are now done using a camera mounted to a multirotor UAV. Another example I like is weddings. In Italy, one of the biggest markets of multirotor UAVs is the aerial videos during this kind of events.

Another fascinating use combines drones and archeology. Nowadays, most of the archaeology research institutes have multirotor UAVs. An example is the reconstruction of the famous city of Pompeii done by a French institute (INRIA) in a collaboration with Microsoft.

A fleet of quadrotor UAVs used at INRIA (A French research center)

Surveying big outdoor facilities is also done more and more by drones.

In Europe, a lot of money has been spent on a project called SHERPA to let ground and aerial vehicles cooperate with an expert in case of avalanches. Imagine how much help an aerial camera when you are searching for someone buried in snow.

My favorite field of application of UAVs is agriculture. A field (no pun intended) where I really think that drones can make a difference. They can be helpful in doing crop analysis, measuring the height of the plants, levels of water and/or nitrogen and so on. For a long time in order to get aerial images, field-owner had to rely on human-piloted airplanes and/or satellites. Just try to think about the costs.

Before leaving you, just keep in mind two more possible future large-scale applications of multirotor UAVs:

• Delivering pharmaceuticals and first aid kits
• Delivering packages (Amazon, with its project Prime Air, is already working on it since few years but aerial delivery is far from happening any soon on a large scale).

Another direction that in my opinion is one of the most important is the one which involves the use of multiple UAVS. I’ll get to that in my next article on the subject.