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The move is on to Apple, wireless network computer security

The move to Apple:

It is a foregone conclusion that the Apple Macintosh computers and operating systems are inherently more secure than Windows, infinitely more stable, much better suited to multimedia applications and reportedly easier to operate. I’ve been threatening to attempt to switch from Windows for quite some time in the hope that I can blaze a trail that others will follow. To that end, most of the contributions SurfSafely.com has received lately have gone toward the purchase of some older Mac computers to experiment with and report my misadventures. The used gear was purchased on ebay and should be the rough equivalent in terms of processing power as the Windows based hardware I now use, hopefully enabling me to compare apples to apples (pardon the obvious pun).

I picked up a PowerPC G3 266MHz fairly well loaded with 384 MB ram, OS 9.2 and 10.2. I’ve messed with multiple Windows OS’s before but they can only be run one at a time. Not quite sure how Mac manages multiple OS’s running simultaneously but that’s one thing I hope to learn. I also picked up an older 3400c laptop, 240MHz, 144MB ram. This one needs repairs. We’ll see if I can get it running again.

Why do I bother with such old, broken down equipment? A) Because it’s roughly equivalent to what I use now and B) We’re not exactly “rolling in the dough” here. Financial support for my online safety work is scarce at best. It certainly has not allowed me to quit my day job as an RF engineer. So, I do what I can, when I can. But enough self pity.

What I will be looking for in my reviews are commonalties that will allow me to migrate easily from environment one to the other. Already I see that there is a version of MS Office written for the Mac. That comprises only about 1/10 of what I do at the computer but for most users it may be as much as 1/3. For Windows applications that have no equivalent on Mac and I simply cannot live without, there are products to allow them to run them in a “Virtual PC” on the Mac. Expense to migrate will be another key factor. How cheaply can I do it and still be able to get the job done?

For the brief periods I have played with it thus far I can tell you that navigating is definitely different. Whether that better, worse or indifferent remains to be seen. I need to devote more time to getting accustomed to it before I can make any judgments. I’ll be chronicling my misadventures for you and hopefully guiding you to a safer and more enjoyable computing experience along the way.

Wish me luck!

Free stuff, too good to be true?

During my recent Apple shopping spree on ebay I came across something interesting that made me think ‘That sounds so good it can’t be true.’ Many of you may have already seen this marketing ploy offering things such as free iPods, notebook computers, digital cameras etc either on ebay or through spam. As it turns out, it may be legitimate.

Basically, the way it works is I register with a marketing company and agree to try at least one product or service being offered through that marketing company. Then I refer a minimum number of new clients to the marketing company who also each sign up for at least one product or service. Once the minimum has been achieved I receive a free gift offered by the marketing company. It’s very attractive to prospective customers. Advertisers dig deeper into their wallets for these guaranteed delivered new customers and bank on a prospect of high retention after their free trials expire.

The company I signed up with, notebooksforfree.com, has dozens of merchants to choose from who offer free trials and steep discounts on their products and services. Truth be told, many of the offers presented are from very reputable companies and things I wanted to try ANYWAY (like Vonage VOIP telephone service and Blockbuster Movies delivered) so theirs may be a good gamble after all. As a potential customer I reason, why not get an added reward for trying something I was going to try anyway? The best part is I do not have to keep the product or service in order to receive the bonus gifts. Only try and decline or return if I really don’t want it.

The model is very similar to the customer acquisition model of cell phone industry without the long term contract. The bonus gifts offered by the marketing company are quite expensive. Up front they are most certain to lose money. Advertisers use the marketing company to deliver prospects. The marketing company banks on the fact that some will not acquire the minimum referrals. Even if they lose money on the front end shelling out expensive gifts to those who do, once this vehicle gains momentum the market will start to saturate. Once this happens it will become increasingly difficult for users to meet the minimum gift quota and the marketing company will retain the profits from the inflated advertising costs without sending out the bonus gifts.

To some degree it does have the appearance of a pyramid scheme. Eventually it will all flatten out and the free gifts will flow much less freely. The model will lose steam and some of the marketing companies may eventually disappear but the merchants won’t. Remember, these are reputable companies. The reason I jumped on board is this: Once this model nears it’s end of life, the worst possible end result is that someone tried a service and decided they liked it enough to keep it, otherwise they got a free trial and lost nothing. So they may be a little disappointed they did not get an expensive free gift. But for right now, as the model continues to gain steam it is very easy to do. People are beginning to realize it’s legitimate and life is very good for the newcomers!

I am recommending you give it a try. By clicking on this link and trying a service offered by the marketing company you help me earn a bonus gift that I have selected. Even if you don’t decide to go after new customers to earn free bonus gifts for yourselves, you still get the opportunity to try out some great services risk free. I would encourage you to try for the bonus though. It honestly is great fun!

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Windows 98 reports of death premature?

I don’t know about you but I’ve been watching the Microsoft update site very cautiously lately, looking for signs that update support for Win98 was coming to it’s reported end. There was recently a flurry of security patches for Windows 2000 and Internet Explorer. It had been a few weeks since I tried to update my Win98 machine so I decided ‘Why not?” What I discovered was, even if updates for the operating system had ceased, updates for Internet Explorer and related application had not. Much to my delight, new security patches were available for my Win98 too. My position is one of cautious optimism, taking each day one at a time and being pleased when good things happen. I am very pleased that MS has not abandoned their Win98 customers. Eventually the marketplace will push users to upgrade to NT based operating systems (including Win2K and XP) but software developers know they would be excluding a HUGE market share by not making their products Win98 compatible too. As long as developers continue to write software for Win98, Microsoft should continue to offer updates for it too. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

On another note, in an attempt to recoup loses from pirated software Microsoft is looking at taking steps to eliminate online support and updates for unauthorized copies of it’s operating systems in hopes of motivating users to go out and buy licensed copies. Already, when downloading patches and updates, they have begun authenticating operating systems on a voluntary basis. Supposedly, by the third quarter of this year it will become mandatory. Users with pirated operating system serial numbers may find themselves without update support. What it could lead to is far too many unpatched systems in the wild that become a breeding ground for computer viruses and worms that will eventually have a negative impact on the rest of us. Microsoft is said to be aware of this possibility and watching the threat level it poses to determine if it will reverse it’s position and allow unrestricted updates again.

I’ll be watching this one very closely.

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Computer virus watch.

I’m always looking for something new to put here but the song remains the same. They’re here. Deal with them before they deal with you.

As I reported above, last week brought with it a flurry of security patches and updates from Microsoft for it’s products and operating systems. Please be sure to run Windows Update now and avoid the potential risks of being exposed.

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