Category Archives: Technology

Give Yourself a Christmas Treat!

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 17.52.07Christmas is a time when we’re all encouraged to find new ways to indulge ourselves and others – often spending loads of money in the process.

So here’s an idea for a Technical Treat that will Transform your TV – without spending loads of cash.

All you need is one of these:   s5-producthero

   HDMI-TV-port     And  a spare one of these at the back of your TV

[Along with a smartphone or tablet to set it up and manage things – and if you don’t already have a Smartphone, or a Tablet, then there’s no point in reading any further – you already know what you need to spend your money on this Christmas! ]

It’s a Chromecast ‘dongle’ from Google!

Google Chromecast is a small media-streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port of your TV.

It connects your TV – wirelessly – to the internet via your Broadband Router so that you can:

  • Browse & Watch BBC iPlayer (most of what the BBC has broadcast in the last 30days)
  • View BT Sport  (if you’re a BT customer)
  • Stream Tesco ‘blinkbox’ video (rent or buy the latest movies and TV shows, without subscription)
  • Watch all/any of the 25million YouTube videos (100hours of new content added every minute!)
  • Then there’s also Netfix, Google Play, Now TV and …… lots, lots more.
  • and you can even brows your OWN photo’s and video’s

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 17.25.25

So how much will it cost ??

Chromecast ‘dongles’ are sold all over the place (Argos, Amazon, John Lewis, Tesco and 100’s more) for about £30 usually including postage)

Are they any good ?

Well I’ve bought two, and Sheila wants to buy a third……

Need more information before you’re convinced?

Still reading this ??

Why ??

[OK – there MIGHT BE a catch. Depending on the Broadband deal you signed up to, you might find there’s a maximum usage cap, and with this you’ll probably find you need to upgrade to ‘unlimited’. I did. So I called BT and, low and behold, I’ve now got unlimited broadband, and its costing me £10 a month LESS than I was paying beforehand. Amazing!, but your ‘mileage may vary’]

Stay Safe!!

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 14.15.30I received and email, thoughtfully forwarded by Keith Manning, yesterday regarding “CryptoLocker” – a particularly nasty form of ransomware targeting Microsoft Windows-based computers. I could do no other than to pass this on – see below – for two reasons:

  1. You need to be aware of the latest threats – forewarned is forearmed, and a little extra vigilance isn’t a bad thing.
  2.  I’ve been meaning to write a post about the need to ‘back up’ valuable information for same time.

You see, the second motive for posting this is far more important than the 1st.

This is because however hard you try to protect computer systems by keeping your software and anti-virus systems up-to-date and however vigilant you are, it’s almost inevitable that, in time, you’ll collect some kind of malware of one form or other on your computer.

If you’re lucky this will be pretty harmless and probably just delivering irritating pop-ups from time to time or a difficult to remove ‘search bar’ or some such. This can be a bit of a pain, but with some time and effort and the right information and tools, infections like this can be removed without too much difficulty.

But if you’re unlucky, a much more serious problem can arise and you’ll find an intolerable alien – like CryptoLocker – has seized control of your computer and the only way to remove it is by re-installing all your software (and data) from scratch. If you’ve got a complete backup of your system, no problem. Re-installation can take time but little effort, and you’ll be back up and running in no time. If you’ve only backed up your data, and not your operating system, it can take a lot longer and much more effort – but your irritation can be tempered with the thought that a ‘fresh’ install of windows almost always has a beneficial effect on performance and it’s probably something you were meaning to do anyway…..:-)

The problem only becomes serious if you don’t have a complete backup of your ‘data’ – meaning you data files that are important to you – like documents, emails and photographs and files containing names, addresses, phone numbers and other personal data that’s difficult to re-create once its gone. Loosing this information is usually nothing short of catastrophic – and yet, surprisingly, many people continue to use systems without any form of backup.

Be warned – if you’re one of these – you are asking for trouble!!

I’ll be posting some general advice regarding backup options in the future but, in the meantime, if you’d like to know more about CryptoLocker, take a look here:

for advice regarding ‘prevention’, look here:

Warning from NYNWA

Above is the note, forwarded by Keith, from North Yorkshire Neighbourhood Watch Association

Reading Room – Internet Access

access_internet_by_cobalagi-d5ebs0yWe’re all extremely sad to see Stephen and Pam leaving the village. They’ve made a significant contribution to the life of the village for the last 20 years and they will be sorely missed.

Their departure will leave a long lasting void in the heart of our community.

Their vacation of St Andrews Cottage also has a significant impact in the short term – NO INTERNET ACCESS for the Reading Room!!

For over two years now, Stephen and Pam have facilitated access to the world wide web by sharing their Internet connection. With their departure we’ll have to find another way to get our ‘connection fix’.

Their are a few potential solutions but, to be honest, I’ve just not had  time to test these over the last few weeks.

Today, I’m working for the NHS in York and Northallerton but should be back by mid afternoon. My hope is to be in the Reading Room as usual to help with problems as usual – if a little later then normal, and somewhat hampered by having no Internet. I’m also looking to start work on this years Duck Race tickets, so unless your problem is urgent, it will probably be best to postpone any planned visit this week until next.

Hopefully, ‘normal service’ will be resumed in due course – and of course, the Internet will be a great way to keep in touch with Stephen and Pam…..



Superfast Broadband – May 2013 update…..

When I last attended a meeting on the subject of the rollout of ‘Superfast’ Broadband in the area, an update regarding the rollout schedule was promised  “in January”. Well we’re fast approaching the halfway point in the year and, despite registering interest in  the Superfast North Yorkshire Web Site, I’ve not yet received any ‘official’ information.

Despite this, I think that good progress is (probably) being made – on the ground at least – and that the lack of information might be more to do with observing the political and commercial niceties that are bound to surface around ‘one off’ projects like this. There’s little evidence to support this view, however, and the only published information I’m going off is from the Exchange Map  (reproduced below)

Superfast North Yorkshire – Exchange Map

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 15.02.13



This shows that those served by the Bedale exchange (Green)) are now able to start placing orders with Broadband Suppliers and that residents covered by the North Cowton and Well exchanges (orange) might expect to be in this position next and are ‘coming soon’. The only exchange in the area with no apparent upgrade plans appears to be Jervaulx.

So while its still uncertain exactly WHEN we all might have a Better Broadband Future it looks like its a certain and might actually be relatively SOON – and with BT announcing Free Premier League Football to all its customers, for any sports fans, it can’t come soon enough……


Stay Safe – and Secure!

Computer Security

The Internet is full of images – half of them are of cats…

Computer Security is important to all of us. Having your computer system infected is inconvenient as a minimum and, worse, can lead to data loss and/or confidential information being stolen.

As ever, the best security is to have a complete backup of all your data. Photographs, documents – everything – needs to be copied and exist in at least two places. Anything you have that exists only on one system is data on the edge of extinction. simple as that.

Fortunately there are lots of ‘online’ backup services – many of them free – that are both reliable and easy to use. There’s really no excuse for not having your data backed up. So if you do get hacked, you’ll be able to recover from any potential data loss.

That said, its still a major hassle to have your security beached. Changing all your passwords and restoring data takes time. Lots of it. Time any of us can ill-afford.

So its worth investing effort in a little housekeeping and staying vigilant.

For most people running windows, turning on the firewall, automatic updates and installing Security Essentials is a great start. But what about all the other software on your system? How can you keep it up to date easily?

The good news is that most software keeps itself updated. The bad news is that this is not always automatic and can be a bit of a pain to do – so most people avoid doing it. Big mistake. The hackers out there know this and deliberately target software that lots of people have, but that may be out of date. Chief amongst these – and the ones I want to highlight here – are JAVA and Adobe Flash & Reader. Just about everyone has them. But few people keep them updated. And I understand why. We hardly ever seem to actually use them and updating them all the time is a right royal pain.

The truth is that, these days, most people don’t actually need either of these pieces of software. And, like me, they have probably spent more time updating them than they have ever spent actually using them.

So I’d like to recommend that you actually think about getting rid of them.

Windows Secrets

Windows Secrets

If you’d like more detail on why, then read these:

Remove Java from your browsers

Flash Player Flaws

Adobe Reader sandbox protection

And if you’d like to know how, read these:

Remove Java from your browsers

Uninstall Flash Player

Remove Adobe Reader

Their may be times when you ‘miss out’ by not having Java. But they will be few and far between. Most people are more likely to ‘need’ to read PDF documents – but if you are one of these, then I recommend this. And Apple seem to have done reasonably well considering non of their iPhone or iPads run Flash!

Stay safe

And If you’d like to discuss any of this, them I’d be pleased to see you in the ReadingRoom at one of the regular sessions 2:30pm – 3:30pm most Fridays.