I’ve got a real mixture for you today – several completely different things I wanted to tell you about.
The first is something I’ve just this minute been looking at myself.
Do you know Google Streetview – where you can use your computer to “wander around” different places from Millom to New York? Lately they’ve been adding some more, well, out of the way places to it. But this latest one really stands out.
Here’s a link to it – you can actually wander round the rim of an active volcano. You can peer inside at the fiery lava. All without the risk of slipping and ending up rather toastier than you’d like.
It’s pretty impressive stuff – and I must admit I admire the people who took the special cameras there – a little bit more intimidating than preparing the pictures of the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace or Millom Town square…
If you have an Apple Mac, don’t panic, but be aware of this
For years (in fact I suspect decades) Apple have been selling their Apple Mac computers (they’re a sort of rival to computers running Windows) on the basis that it’s much safer because they don’t get viruses.
I’ve always thought it was a very brave thing to say so publicly… the main reason they don’t get viruses is because not so many people have them, so it’s not so worth the criminals’ time to write viruses for them. But if the adverts work and they get more popular, then the criminals will start paying attention to them. Apple’s response to arguments like this went along the lines of “No, no, no, our computers are just much better than everything else so it’s not a problem.” Or as I would put it, along the lines of sticking their fingers in their ears and going “la la la, I can’t hear you.”
Well, it’s not much consolation, but it looks like I was right. Lately there’ve been a spate of various different kinds of malware programs discovered that target Apple Macs. Sure, it’s not as many as target Windows PCs, but then everyone agrees that if you have a Windows PC, you need antivirus or security software to keep it safe.
Anyway, if you don’t have an Apple Mac, you don’t need to worry! If you do have one, still don’t panic. But it is sensible to take the precautions that people with PCs take – in particular I’d recommend getting an anti-virus program. Of course, it’s possible that even without it, you’d be fine. But it’s very possible you wouldn’t be too. So my advice is to avoid the risk.
(If the above comes across as me having a dig at Apple, well, it’s not meant that way. Not entirely, anyway. They’ve made some really impressive kit over the years and some developments in technology that have changed the world – going right back to the 1970s. And I’m not criticising the computers they’ve made at all. But I feel it’s a bit irresponsible for them to dismiss any worries about viruses and Macs – and that’s not fair to the people using their computers.)
Smartphones: Help is at Hand
The other day I told you a little bit about what I’ve been working on lately – the new Smartphone Help is at Hand books.
Something I didn’t mention is exactly what phones they’re suitable for: it’s only smartphones (as the name suggests!) – that’s the type where you have a touch screen instead of buttons and you can use them to browse the internet, check emails and so on (not that you have to use it to do all that).
In fact it’s smartphones that are either Apple’s iPhone or any phones running Google’s Android system. (Usually these say Android on the screen while you turn them on – they’re made by all sorts of companies from Samsung to Sony to Acer to Google themselves.)
I’m afraid it doesn’t cover Blackberry phones or Windows phones – they’re just too different to cover in the same book.
Android phones and iPhones like these are simply amazing – everything they can do for you. I find it just staggering – things that would have seemed like crazy science-fiction not that long ago.
But that only makes it more frustrating when they won’t do what they should. Whether they stop working, start going really slow, freeze every so often or simply start being a bit erratic… It all can be so frustrating.
Especially when fixing the problem is often pretty simple – just flicking a switch in a settings menu somewhere – once you know which switch in which menu.
Anyway, that’s why I’ve written these books.
But as I say, they’re not quite ready yet. They will be shortly and I’ll let you know when they are!