Into space, then back in time (all in one email)

By | August 15, 2014
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I often include a variety of different things in this newsletter but it really is a mixture this time. Shortly we’ll be off into space and after that going back in time.

But first, a bit of security advice for anyone with an Android based touchscreen tablet or phone…

Two reasons why you shouldn’t worry about the recent nasty “bug” on Android
It’s almost become a regular occurrence to hear about the latest virus, trojan or some other kind of internet nasty. But usually they only affect Windows PC/laptops.

Not this one – it’s a very sneaky thing that affects tablets or smartphones that use Android – as a lot of them do. (Android is the one made by Google and you might also hear it called Jelly Bean or KitKat – they’re particular versions of it.)

You might have heard about it last week.

In fact, it’s not actually a virus or whatever that’s been found, technically. A security company called BlueBox Labs found a way that bad guys could write a piece of malware that does things it shouldn’t, if they thought of it… and they straight away told Google so they could fix it.

Google then did a big check and didn’t find any cases of it being used. In this case it looks like the good guys found the way to do it before the bad guys!

So there are two reasons not to worry about it:
1) Google have updated the latest version of Android so this method doesn’t work any more, so no-one can use it to do anything bad. So if you use Android 4.4 (also known as KitKat), then you’re fine.
2) Google have also checked every single app in their Google Play Store – the official place to get apps for Android. All of them are fine. So if you only ever use apps you get from there, then you’re fine, even if you have an older version of Android.

I’d usually recommend using Google Play Store anyway. That way the apps have to meet certain rules set by Google so they’re more likely to work the way they’re supposed to!

So in a nutshell, well done to BlueBox labs for finding the bug so it can be fixed. And as long as you only use apps from the official Google Play store, you’re fine. And if you have the latest version of Android, you’re fine even if you use other apps.

Out into space with Louize
An email Lou sent me the other day that I thought was interesting:

I was sitting outside last night with a friend and we saw the ISS (International Space Station) at 11.11pm.

It got me to looking it up on t’web this morning to check if that was what we really saw, and it was! And you can look up when and where you can spot it and see where it is live. How awesome is that!

It’s so interesting and I thought our readers might find this pretty cool too, in case you want to mention it in the next newsletter.

I had a look and it’s really interesting – you can see exactly when you’ll be able to see the space station and where in the sky. Or you can look back and see where it was at a particular time, if you think you might have seen it the other day and want to check where it was.

I think it’s great when information like this is so easily available online.

And back in time…
Do you watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” on TV? They often turn up some really interesting and unexpected snippets and stories when they look through someone’s family tree.

Who would have thought booming Brian Blessed would be brought to tears by the emotion of what he discovered about his ancestors.

Have you ever wondered about your ancestors? (I know I have – there’s a family story that we’re related to Sir Isaac Newton on my Mum’s side.) Well, chances are neither you or I are going to be picked by the BBC for the programme, so we won’t get their experts doing all the research for us.

But the thing is, it’s not as hard as it looks, especially now so much of it is on the internet, so you can find out amazing things, just from sitting down at your computer with a cup of tea for an hour or so.

Anyway, we’ve been working on something to help make it easier. I’m not supposed to say too much yet, though, as it’s not quite finished and I don’t want to tempt fate.

Watch this space…