Saturday 29 November 2014

The development of standards for the Internet of Things (IoT) [Link - Computer Weekly]

I was recently asked for my comments for a magazine article around whether the Internet of Things (IoT) could be standardised.

As you can image, I give a number of comments to the press, but it's always good to see them being used:

FutureLearn: Begin Programming: Build your first mobile game (Week 5 & 6)

I had a few things on at work, so my studying slipped and had to catch up two weeks of course material this week.

Again, it this may have been more of a challenge for those who have never programmed before, but fortunately I could leverage previous experiences.

Week 5 was about algorithms, and week 6 about functions.  Both areas have been touched upon in previous weeks, but certainly well developed course material around these subjects.  The mix of theory and practicals make it feel like a more complete learning experience.

Next weeks course will be the last one in this series, so I'll see how that goes then.

Sunday 16 November 2014

FutureLearn: Begin Programming: Build your first mobile game (Week 4)

This week we looked at loops and arrays, which again I remember from my programming days at university.  The videos and tutorials were excellent, giving a great reminder on how to tackle these elements and where they are used.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

FutureLearn: Begin Programming: Build your first mobile game (Week 3)

This week was learning about conditional statements.  Again there was familiarity with reading the code and understanding the statements, which helped speed up this weeks learning.  There is still plenty to learn from a syntax perspective, but not as hard as I thought it may be.

Thursday 6 November 2014

FutureLearn: Begin Programming: Build your first mobile game (Week 2)

This week was spent learning about code constructs.  It covered off data types and variables, as well as operators and precedence.

It seems that the Pascal programming I did at university over 20 years had stuck, as this week made a lot of sense and was very familiar.

Next week is covering conditional statements, which I think I remember as well!

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade

A bit of a departure from the type of topics I normally blog about!

My slim PS3 is about five years old and really only used for a couple of reasons.  It's my blu-ray player, and we use it for Singstar!  I noticed that with the new version of Singstar, the game was hanging and the PS3 running hot.

Being cautious, I took a back up of the existing 160GB hard drive onto an external USB hard drive.  The total size of the back up was 60GB, so the storage is really being used.  I notice that the drive was quite noisy as well, so I decided the replacement drive should be an SSD (solid state drive).  With no moving parts it will not generate the same amount of heat or noise as a traditional hard drive.  It should be quicker as well and from some of the comments online, it may remove some of the lag in bigger games.

Rather than replace the drive with a larger capacity drive, I opted for a smaller one to get the SSD at a price point below £40 for 128GB.

I followed these instructions to remove the existing drive and drop in the new one:

With a blank drive in place the PS3 will complain about not having system software on the drive.  The system software can be downloaded from here:

Once downloaded, get a USB stick or USB drive and plug it into your computer.  Create a folder on the root of the drive called PS3 (and ensure it's in upper case).  In that folder, create another folder called UPDATE (again in upper case) and then copy the file into that folder.

Plug the USB device into the PS3, and you will need to use a controller connected by a USB cable as well.  When prompted, press and hold the Start and Select buttons together.  It will then prompt you that the hard drive will need to be formatted, which is initiated by pressing and holding the Start and Select buttons for five seconds.

Once formatted, it will copy the System Software onto the hard drive and you will have to run through the initial setup of the PS3 again.  Once completed, you will be able to restore from the backup file created initially to get all the games and saves back.

I now have a quick and silent PS3, which should hang mid game for a while!

Monday 3 November 2014

Building Your Business’ Best Defence Against Cyber-Threats [Link - Fresh Business Thinking]

It is increasingly very difficult for businesses to respond to security threats. Gradually, threats have become more sophisticated, blending different levels and methods of attacks which have made it more and more difficult for IT departments to respond to them appropriately. With IT budgets driven down in some sectors, the problem has been exacerbated: defences are weakened and the attacks are gaining strength and detail.

The biggest security challenge for businesses is looking at the basic threats facing them and securing against these vulnerabilities. The first consideration is whether a business’ website is protected. IT departments should also review the protocols in place to prevent existing or ex-employees from accessing sensitive company data. Businesses often worry about what brand of firewall they should be using, when the most basic protection against internal breaches has not been dealt with. A lock is useless when you've left the door wide-open!

Responding to a security threat will rely heavily on preparation. To ensure you are ready to respond at a moment’s notice, consider the following:
1. Think about the business strategy to respond to threats before they hit
2. Review your current vulnerabilities and form an action plan
3. Consider further staff training and education
4. Only consider new technology/software once you have addressed the ‘person factor’

Overcoming security threats is about getting the basics right, and recognising that often the biggest threat to a business is people, whether intentionally or not. People make mistakes, they can be manipulated, or they can simply hold a grudge. Never underestimate the threat that individuals, both external and internal to a business, can pose.

Thus often the best prevention for a security breach is not simply identifying glaring vulnerabilities, but rather looking at where the 'lure' for the potential hacker or person wishing to do damage is. Googling oneself is not about vanity, but in fact it can actually help to protect a business online. If an employee’s social media presence details pet names, kids names, hobbies etc., then a business could find that 'password reminders' are suddenly available for the tenacious hacker looking to do damage.

Ultimately, the first solution to cyber threats is to look at the people involved, the company’s profile, and its website – and only once that has been considered should software/hardware solutions to support this be considered.