Issue 187

Issue 187
Issue 187
In This Issue
Future Meetings.....................................................................................2
Committee Members.............................................................................3
Chairman’s Report / Joining the Yahoo Group.................................4
Why Libraries Still Matter .............................................................5 - 7
Car Sharing / Lifts.................................................................................7
Mobile Phones and Security Issues ..............................................8 & 9
Whence Windows 7......................................................................10 - 12
Disinformation on the Internet ...................................................12 - 14
Recommended Programs...........................................................14 & 15
The Isle of Wight
Personal Computer
User Group
We welcome anyone who has an interest in computers and related
technology and what you can do with it.
We are a group which seeks to exchange ideas and new information.
Membership is £12 per annum
Our meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at
The Riverside Centre, Newport from 7.30 to 9.30 pm
Visitors are welcome.
A charge of £2 is made per meeting, which includes tea or
coffee during the break.
If you would like to know more about us, you are most welcome to come along
to one of our meetings, or you can contact one of our Committee Members listed on page 3.
The Club Website address is
We also have an e-group discussion area on
Yahoo groups:
1 Oct
Use of technology in Investigative
5 Nov
Mini Talks
3 Dec
Christmas Meeting
IOW Computer Geek
Chairman : David Groom
Treasurer : Phil Rogers
Secretary : Susanne Bone
Membership and Database Secretary : Roger Skidmore
Committee Member : Steve Sutters
Committee Member : Soren Johanson
HotKey Editor : Bob Groom
contact details removed prior to publishing on the
Suggestions for new events, topics or speakers for talks are always welcome.
Please contact Steve Sutters, or any committee member, with your ideas.
If necessary we may be able to find a speaker for your subject.
Chairmans Report
Our August meeting was the annual summer barbecue and although the
weather wasn't as pleasant as it had been for much of the early summer we
were lucky that the rain that had been forecast earlier in the week did not
materialise and we had an enjoyable evening, made all the more so because
we celebrated Su Bone's birthday.
As noted in the last issue of Hotkey we held an EGM at the September
meeting in order to put changes to constitution to the members. The
resolutions on the table were passed and as a consequence the minutes of
all General Meetings will now be approved by the members within 9 weeks
of the meeting rather than having to wait for the next AGM as was
previously the case. The “Documents” section of the club web site has been
updated with a copy of the changed constitution.
I'd like to thank Steve Sutters and Roger Skidmore for stepping in short
notice to give a presentation at our September meeting, Steve & Roger
talked about trying to repair a projector (images of the dichroic mirror
assembly showing how the unit splits up white light before passing it
through three separate LCD screens and then re-combining the light, are on
the back cover). Roger also talked about his recent experiences of installing
and using the Linux Mint operating system, which he now intends to put
onto the Computability project computers before handing them over to
Joining the Yahoo Group
Send an email to: with “join” in the
subject line.
All members are encouraged to join this group ( which costs nothing and is
private to club members ) in order to keep in touch with events and to join in
with the discussions.
You can also keep in touch by regularly visiting
Why Libraries Still Matter
Personal Computing By Reid Goldsborough
The short answer to the question of why libraries still matter is, Not
everything is available on the Internet, especially the free, legal Internet.
You won't find most recent books, most magazine and journal articles, or back
issues of most newspapers and magazines. Pay search services such as
LexisNexis ( can help. Illegal "pirate" sites and
BitTorrent services, on the other hand, can get you in trouble and are just plain
Sometimes you need a library, and sometimes you need the services of a
It's true that there's a lot of material on the Internet. At the time of this writing,
the Internet included more than 920 million active web sites, according to
Netcraft ( Google claims to have indexed nearly 20
billion webpages.
But libraries can be pretty big too. The British Library, the world's largest,
contains 150 million items. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is
about the same size. The New York Public Library, in third place, is about a
third as large.
Even with small community libraries, you'll find books and other materials
you won't find online.
It's also true that information keeps growing. Former Google CEO Eric
Schmidt has been quoted as saying, "There were 5 exabytes of information
created between the dawn of civilization through 2003. But that much
information is now created every two days, and the pace is increasing." An
exabyte is one followed by eighteen zeros. Some believe that Schmidt was
conservative in his estimates.
But it's not just about the quantity of information. According to James
Gleick's book The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, sometimes the
sheer amount of information compromises wisdom and the trivial
overwhelms the meaningful. Data needs to become information,
information needs to become knowledge, and knowledge needs to become
This is one way in which librarians can help. They can help you figure out
the best sources of information, says Jessamyn West, author of the blog ( and community technology educator in
Randolph, Vermont.
"Libraries are essential to the idea of a functioning democracy. If you trust
people to vote, they need access to unbiased impartial information and
public space available for contemplation of those things," West told me in
an email interview. "America needs public spaces for community cohesion,
unfettered by people trying to sell you something."
Librarians can also get to know you, says West. They can thus tailor your
search according to your personal informational needs, whether based on
the job you have, the town or city you live in, or your family situation, and
they can do this better than a set of computerized algorithms.
Much here has to do with overcoming the mindset that more is better. You
can always find more websites, blogs, wikis, online discussion group posts,
Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, newspaper and magazine articles,
newsletters, white papers, reports, books, and so on.
Using the conscious mind to try to uncover more and more information,
according to information scientists, can thwart the involvement of the
subconscious mind in decisions about what to do with that information. The
goal shouldn't be sheer information accumulation but making the best
possible organizational, family, or personal decisions using that information.
Creative thinking and sound judgment are needed. This necessitates
integrating new information you uncover with the existing information you
have to discover connections and patterns. Intuition and emotion can be just
as important here as reason and logic.
After you find the best sources of information for your purposes, allow for
serendipity, for hearing the unheard and seeing the unforeseen. Opening a
book randomly can take you to the unexpected, the useful, and the uplifting.
Despite its newfangled digital trappings, information overload isn't a new
problem. In the eighteenth century the English poet Alexander Pope lamented
the "deluge of authors cover[ing] the land."
Going back far further, the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca wrote, "What
is the use of having countless books and libraries, whose titles their owners
can scarcely read through in a whole lifetime? The learner is not instructed
but burdened by the mass of them, and it is much better to surrender yourself
to a few authors than to wander through many."
Some local and state governments, facing pressure to reduce taxes, have cut
library budgets. But according to a Pew Research Center Library Services
Study, 90 percent of Americans feel that the closing of their local public
library would damage their community and 67 percent feel it would affect
them and their families.
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book
Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at or
Car Sharing / Lifts
It is possible that a number of our members do not attend our monthly
meetings because they find transport to Newport difficult and the committee
have wondered if it might be possible to arrange lifts for those members.
With a membership as large as ours it is not always obvious who might like
to attend but has difficulty with transport, and secondly, who might live
nearby and be able to offer them a lift.
As a first step, if you would like to attend the meetings, currently can’t get to
the Riverside Centre on a Wednesday evening and would like to see if there
is a nearby member who might offer you a lift, then could you please get in
contact with me. We will then try and find a member who might be willing
to give you a lift.
David Groom
Mobile phones and Security Issues
Early in September reports in the newspapers suggested that a number of
celebrities had had compromising photos (which had probably been shot on
their mobile phones) stolen from their Apple iCloud accounts and subsequently
leaked online. At the moment details of how the photos were illicitly obtained
seem to imply that rather than there being a vulnerability in Apples' systems,
access to the celebrities accounts was gained by hackers guessing usernames,
passwords and answers to security questions.
We probably don't have similar photos which we have taken on our own
phones, but it is timely to consider what other information we do have, and
what security risks may be involved. It is important to stress that whilst in the
first paragraph I talked of Apple's iCloud, similar issues occur on Android and
Windows based phones.
One consequence of mobile phones and tablets becoming more common place
is the we may have become blase to some of the security risks they pose. With
our desktop machines and laptops we are used to being careful about what
information we store on them and more importantly what information we share
online. One of the problems with mobile phones, and here I’m talking about
smartphones (iPhones, Android based phones, and the new Windows 8
phones), is that we are still thinking of them as phones rather than more
accurately as portable computers. As a consequence we may not give security
issues on our phones as much thought as we do when using laptops and
In order to get the best out of these devices most of them require that you enter
a username and password for your online account with the system provider,
whether that be Google, Apple or Microsoft. We are encouraged to believe that
if we turn on synchronising of our data then this has positive benefits; we like
the fact that our contacts list, e-mail addresses, documents, photos and all the
other myriad of things stored on one device are accessible on all the other
devices we own. However this “being available on all our devices” doesn't
happen magically, the information is first sent to (and stored on) the system
providers servers in the cloud, and then downloaded to all your other devices.
Since the information is “in the cloud” then access to it is possible if someone
knows your username and password.
So what steps should we take to protect ourselves?
The first and most obvious step is make sure that you never store anything in
the cloud which is private information. However one problem with this
approach is how much do we really know about how our new devices work?
How much is stored locally on the device and how much is automatically
uploaded to the cloud? What do the options for online backup, photostreaming etc actually mean?
The next and equally obvious step is USE A STRONG PASSWORD on your
account with the service provider. I really can't stress this enough. It's such an
obvious step its almost embarrassing having to remind people to do this, but
since it seems the hackers who accessed the celebrities iCloud accounts were
able to guess the passwords and usernames it would seem that the passwords
the celebrities used were not strong enough.
I would also recommend activating two-step verification on your accounts.
Once this is activated then even if someone knows your username and
password they cannot access your account unless the computing device they
are using has been authorised to access your account. Typically this
authorisation is achieved through sending a verification code by text message
to a phone number which you have previously set. This verification code then
has to be input before anyone can access your account. This should stop an
unauthorised user accessing your account (unless of course they have also
access to your phone). If the celebrities had set this up then it is unlikely that
their photos could have been accessed.
Also remember that since your tablet or phone stores your account username
and password it is now a means of gaining access to all your data. So you need
equally strong passwords on the tablet or phone so that if the device is lost or
stolen then someone can't gain access to your accounts using it.
You should also consider activating the “lost phone” type of app on your
device, not only do these apps allow you to locate your device should it be
mislaid, but they also allow you to log on to the cloud service and lock the lost
or stolen device.
David Groom
Whence Windows 7?
Personal Computing By Reid Goldsborough
Microsoft seems to alternately release a brilliant major version of Windows
followed by a brain-dead version. Windows 95 was good, Windows ME bad,
Windows XP good, Windows Vista bad, Windows 7 good, and Windows 8
The first preview version of the next major version of Windows, the world's
most popular personal computer operating system, is scheduled for release to
developers on September 30, 2014. That release is codenamed "Threshold,"
but most people expect it to be called Windows 9 when it's released to
consumers with new computers or as an upgrade to existing computers, which
should happen sometime in 2015, perhaps in the fall.
It's not clear whether Windows 9 will be brilliant or brain-dead. But it does
appear that it will bring back the much clamored for Start menu. What's not
yet known is if it will continue to sacrifice the needs of PC users for the
purpose of trying to sell more Windows tablets and smartphones, like
Windows 8 did.
The failure of Windows 8 to meet the needs of PC users is the reason it has
failed in the marketplace and has been nearly universally condemned by
reviewers in the computer press. It's also a key contributing factor to the
relative decline of Windows PC sales by PC manufacturers, dragging other
companies down. Corporate, government, and other organizational buyers in
particular have stayed away in droves, sticking with Windows 7 and earlier
operating systems.
Organizations typically don't like Windows 8 because of the costs associated
with its implementation, particularly training users how to use it. Consumers
don't like it because of its dual nature that combines desktop and touchfriendly interfaces, forcing you to switch among the two, with it often not
being clear where to go for specific features.
Microsoft, however, forced the hand of many organizational buyers when it
discontinued support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This means that
Microsoft stopped developing and making available security and other
updates, which makes it riskier to continue using Windows XP computers
while connected to the Internet.
But organizational buyers haven't migrated to Windows 8. When they need to
buy new PCs, most are buying machines that still come with Windows 7.
Consumers don't have it as easy. If you walk into a consumer electronics store
such as Best Buy, a discount retailer such as Target, or an independent
computer store, you'll likely find Windows PCs running only Windows 8.
You may be able, however, to special order a Windows 7 machine from a
retail store. Or you can buy one online.
It's generally not a good idea to buy a Windows 8 machine and attempt to
"downgrade" it to Windows 7. Most PC manufacturers don't support such
changes, so you'd be on your own. Microsoft provides downgrade rights only
if you have a Windows 8 PC that's running Windows 8 Pro, which is the
version designed for businesses.
Also, you may need to buy a new, unused copy of Windows 7, though some
users have reported success using other techniques. You will need a Windows
7 product key. You may experience glitches with wireless adapters, video
cards, and other hardware that are supported by Windows 8 but that may not
be supported by Windows 7. Alternately, there are various ways you can
make Windows 8 act more like Windows 7, though they take time to set up.
Generally, if you want Windows 7, it's easier to buy a machine that comes
preinstalled with it. I just bought a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop over the Internet
on Amazon for $390, including shipping. It weighs 5.2 pounds, runs an AMD
2.9 gigahertz processor, and comes with a 15.6 inch monitor, 4 gigabytes of
RAM, a 320 gigabyte hard drive, and Windows 7 Pro. It's not the lightest,
fastest, or most capacious laptop on the market, by a longshot, but it meets my
Other people have reported similar experiences. The websites of Best Buy and
Newegg are other good choices.
Microsoft is trying to put the brakes on the sale of Windows 7 in other ways
as well. The end-of-sales date for computers with Windows 7 Home Basic,
Home Premium, and Ultimate is October 31, 2014. After that, the only
Windows 7 choice generally available will be business-focused laptops and
desktops running Windows 7 Pro. Though more expensive, it isn't a bad
choice for home PCs.
All of these shenanigans should be largely irrelevant by this time next year if
Microsoft repeats its past performance and puts out a brilliant Windows 9.
Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book
Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at or
Disinformation on the Internet
By now, virtually nobody believes that if it's on the Internet, it must be true.
Clearly the nature of the Internet makes it easy for misinformation -accidentally incorrect information -- and disinformation -- deliberately
incorrect information -- to slip through.
One recent incident shines interesting light on the problem of disinformation,
self-promotion, and Internet history.
In early September 2014 the Huffington Post (, a highquality online news and opinion site launched in 2005, posted a series on the
history of email. Soon afterward, it removed the series, posting this
explanation: "Readers and media commentators alerted us to factual and
sourcing issues in the series and, after an internal review, we removed it from
the site."
The Huffington Post's fatal flaw was publishing as fact the fiction of V. A.
Shiva Ayyadurai, an American email entrepreneur born in India who for years
has claimed to have invented email. According to the retracted article, quoting
Ayyadurai, "The reality is this: in 1978, there was a 14-year-old boy and he
was the first to create electronic office system. He called it email, a term that
had never been used before, and then he went on and got official recognition
by the U.S. government."
Ayyadurai was referring to his naming an electronic version of an interoffice
mail system "EMAIL" and to his copyrighting this name in 1982. However,
the generic version of email had been around for seven years, since U.S.
Department of Defense contractor Ray Tomlinson sent a test email to himself
in 1971 (
Email was standardized by RFC 524 in 1973 (
RFC stands for Request for Comments and is a publication of the Internet
Engineering Task Force and the Internet Society. Tomlinson doesn't claim to
be email's inventor, acknowledging others' contributions as well. Ayyadurai
has no such modesty, at his own website ( and elsewhere.
Ayyadurai is behind a number of different businesses, including EchoMail
(, an email management company.
The Huffington Post isn't the only publication to have been snookered in this
way. In 2012 the Washington Post also falsely reported that Ayyadurai had
invented email. In 2011 Time Magazine did the same. The bogus claims keep
resurfacing, getting refuted, and resurfacing again. The technology blog
Gizmodo provides more details on the issue (
Though disinformation and misinformation exist in both the worlds of online
and traditional journalism, standards for accuracy are weaker online. There
are typically few or no gatekeepers to check if someone is exaggerating to
impress others, neglecting to tell the whole truth by omitting important
information, downplaying the significance of something known to be crucial,
saying something in a deliberately ambiguous way to provide an out, or
telling a barefaced lie.
As a general rule, texting and discussion areas are less reliable than websites
because less care goes into creating the information on them. But everyone on
occasion makes mistakes, even when considerable effort goes into avoiding
One reality of the online world is that people can position themselves as
experts, and many do. You frequently see, for instance, lay people playing
doctor or lawyer, offering opinions about complicated subjects, when it's clear
that all they've done is Googled a medical article or court case and don't have
a clue how to interpret its meaning or what its limitations are.
As a reader, you should be skeptical, not cynical, about information you come
across, whether its source is a traditional or new media outlet.
Ask yourself "Is it true?" Then also ask:
Does the site look professional? If a website is carefully constructed
rather than slopped together, chances are greater that the information
within it will be accurate. But looks can and do deceive. A flashy site
can merely be a marketing front for quack health remedies or an illegal
pyramid scheme.
Who's behind the information? Different sources employ different
levels of thoroughness in research and fact-checking and different
levels of objectivity.
Why is the person or organization presenting the information? Sources
may have agendas, sometimes explicit, sometimes hidden.
Is the information paid for? Ads and advertorials, whether labeled or
not, are inherently less credible than other information.
Does the information diverge from my current understanding? If it
diverges widely and may affect an important decision, try to verify the
same information with at least two other sources, and make sure those
sources aren't copycatting the information from the same source.
Whether online or off, the byword is, and will likely always remain, Caveat
lector -- Let the reader beware.
Karren Hammond
Recommended Programs
At the AGM it was decided to cease production of the coverdisk, and instead
we would periodically produce a list of recommended programs, and where
to download them from, the next page contains that list.
Download from
File Encryption
Foxit Reader
PDF Reader
Office Suite
CD/DVD burner
File Encryption
Adobe Reader
PDF Reader
Web Browser
Archive Manager
Advanced System
PC Tune Up
AVG Free Free
Avast Free
Free Antivirus
PC Tune Up
See the last paragrapgh of the Chairmans Report for an explanation of these images
We try to publish HOTKEY quarterly in April, July, October and January
This edition was compiled using Serif PagePlus 9
and printed by Island Printers, East Street, Ryde.
No responsibility can be accepted with respect to any advice or suggestions
in this journal.
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