With the recent nightmare scenario surrounding Sony's Playstation Network (PSN), a lot of people are concerned about online security. Sony have admitted that personal information, including dates of birth, mother's maiden names, addresses and credit card numbers are included in the data stolen by hackers. This is a major incident in the world of the web, one of the largest security breaches ever.
Is the web safe? How can I protect myself from fraud and identity theft? Is there any way I can protect myself?
The web is by definition a public area. Celebrities especially seem to forget this when posting on Twitter or Facebook. The greatest strength of the web – that you can access all of it, from anywhere in the world, all the time – is the reason why security breaches like the one affecting the PSN are inevitable. The web is not inherently safe, but you can protect yourself to a certain extent if you follow the following guidelines:
- Use credit (not debit) cards
- Use different and strong passwords (a password manager helps)
- Protect your data
- Use up-to-date software
If you keep these things in mind when using the web, you will protect yourself from the majority of attacks, and minimise the impact an attack has if you do fall victim to one. The web is a wonderful resource, I love it and can't imagine living without it now, but common sense should prevail with these things, always remembering: the web is public, not private.
Continue reading 'Online Security'
I am currently watching an excellent series on the BBC called The Story of Science. The third episode, which I have just watched, is called 'How we got here'.
It of course raises all the red herrings and difficult questions surrounding geology and biology, but one observation from the presenter hit me squarely between the eyes.
The episode ended on a geological note, Dr Mosley talked about how violent Earth is, with the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes caused by continental drift, and the tsunamis that occur when those events happen underwater.
His point was that the development of life is not in spite of Earth being so violent, but is actually helped by it. Some catastrophic events do wipe out entire species, but most of the time the violence actually encourages life to flourish by giving it new opportunities. His best example was the Rift Valley in East Africa, which is home to hundreds of thousands of animals and birds.
I found this a fascinating argument, that natural 'disasters' help and encourage life to flourish far more often than harming it. And it made me think – well that's exactly how God operates, bringing life out of death, even totally dead and arid places like the deserts of East Africa, transformed into lush savannah by the violent separating of two continents.
It should not surprise us that he created the world in such a way – that no matter how dreadful the catastrophe, life always survives, somehow, somewhere. Even at its most harsh and devastating, creation does exactly what it says on the tin.
I have long disliked the central place that 'chance' has in modern scientific theories, particularly the 'random' mutations that drive evolution forward. As a Christian I don't like the idea of utter randomness, of chance being the determining factor in the development of life.
I am also aware that as a concept it is lauded by many of the new atheists as the final nail in God's coffin: there is no need for God, there is no proof for God's existence in nature; everything is down to chance, and therefore there is no creator, and no ultimate purpose to life.
A good friend pointed me recently to this article, by Paul Ewart. It is one of those articles that forced me to look at something from a slightly different angle, which is no bad thing.
Paul Ewart argues that – maybe – chance is a necessary aspect of theology, because it helps us to understand the relationship between a sovereign creator and human agency (often called 'free will' – I'm not sure humans actually have free will, but that's another argument).
Perhaps life is like a game of chess, with God as 'an infinitely wise grand master.' No matter what we do, which moves we make, God always wins, the outcome is always good, in the end: 'God adapts his actions in sustaining the world in existence to take account of whatever happens.'
Of course, we would want to argue that God also knows which moves we are going to make, before we make them. We don't 'catch him out' with our wickedness. We mustn't take the chess game analogy too far; instead it is perhaps a helpful way for us to understand how the world appears sometimes (that there is no benevolent almighty God in ultimate control) with what the Bible insists is the case (the Lamb is on the throne).
Compare these two press reports very carefully. The first report is the original, from the Telegraph, the second was reported subsequently by V3.
The company interviewed 1,317 people – 57 per cent of which described the street mapping service an ‘intrusion' while 24 per cent said that they believed it was simply ‘a service for burglars’.
Seventy-three per cent of the people polled who called the service an ‘intrusion’ said that they were most angered by the fact they have not given permission for the publishing of images.
Just over a third of those interviewed believe that the expansion of the service, which rolled out yesterday, was a positive move.
Street View Concerns
According to the report 57 per cent of those interviewed described the service an ‘intrusion' while 24 per cent said that they believed it was ‘a service for burglars’. A staggering seventy-three per cent labeled the service an ‘intrusion’ and said that they were most angered by the fact they have not given permission for the publishing of images.
Just over a third said they thought the expansion of the service, announced on Thursday, was a positive thing.
Street View Slammed
Is it me or is that really bad journalism by V3?!
I've been having problems with previewing PDFs within Outlook since I installed Windows 7 (64-bit). I tried installing Outlook 2010 but it still didn't work. However, this did:
Since I upgraded to Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) I have been unable to download programmes using the BBC iPlayer Desktop. It worked fine before, but the upgrade killed it.
I tried uninstalling it, removing it using AppCleaner, uninstalling Adobe AIR, restarting etc etc, and eventually just gave up.
Today however I solved the problem!
I uninstalled iPlayer Desktop using AppCleaner, and then deleted the directory:
Where ~/ is your home directory.
I then went back to the iPlayer website, reinstalled iPlayer Desktop, and now all works fine!
I hope this helps someone else.