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Disposing of sensitive data – it’s not rocket science.

Recently published research shows that people, including those who should really know better, are selling or disposing of computers without taking adequate care to completely remove or destroy sensitive information. Data discovered includes information on launch procedures for current intercontinental ballistic missile countermeasures and NHS records!
OK, so what should you do with your old computer? Here’s my advice:

  • Don’t assume that formatting the hard drive will make data unrecoverable.
  • If the hard drive is no longer needed, remove it from the machine and physically destroy it with a hammer – it’s effective and quite satisfying!
  • If the hard drive is to be reused, use Darik’s Boot and Nuke to clear the drive before reformatting.

Backup Bargain

How good are your backups? “What backups”, did I hear you you say? Don’t hesitate, follow this advice and start backing up what’s most important to you.

ati11homeSet your backups up carefully to protect your important data then schedule them to run automatically, for example when you shut your machine down at the end of the day. Maybe your backup software is just not clever enough and backups are such a hassle that you don’t bother. As I write this, there is a great deal available on Acronis True Image Home 11, which is probably the world’s best backup software for individual Windows machines.This program is very powerful but also very user friendly.

Here’s how to buy True Image Home for about £6, which is fantastic value since it would normally cost you about £30, you also get the Acronis Disk Director Suite worth another £30, which lets you do just about anything with your hard drive.  Follow this link to the Acronis website – don’t be put off that it’s the US site, this is a software download. Once you get to the site, click the Buy Now button and in the box which says Coupon Code enter ATIH80 and click the Apply button. The price should now say $9.99. Follow through the checkout process and download you software. No I am not getting commission – just helping my friends!

Update: I hope some of you got in fast – the Coupon code seems to have stopped working by Friday 19th 🙁

Google Chrome – yet another way to browse

Like me, you probably already search the web mostly through Google's glasses, so how would you like to take a look using their eyes too? Google's new browser Chrome is out in 'beta'. Knowing Google I wouldn't be surprised to see Chrome remain as a 'beta' for a long time, so I wouldn't let it put you off downloading it and giving it a go.

There are lots of detailed reviews out there, so I won't attempt another, but my first impressions after a couple of hours use are of a clean and simple user interface, low memory usage and very fast page rendering. It is nothing like as configurable and flexible as my favourite Firefox 3, but I'll certainly be using it sometimes when I need fast browsing.

Google has an interesting comic book style introduction to Chrome here (HT Ted Barnett)

Grooving with Microsoft

grooveYet another oxymoron: ‘Microsoft Groove’ – almost as bad as ‘Microsoft Works’!

I hesitate slightly to blog about Groove because I’m not sure that anyone should pay the full price: amazon.com $179 amazon.co.uk £200(rip-off Britain again!). However if like Eddie and I, you get your Microsoft software at sensible prices through their generous charity licensing programme, then I recommend buying the top end Office Enterprise Suite which includes the wonderful OneNote and Groove.

Groove can do a number of things, but primarily it is intended to help with team collaboration. Groove enables users to create workspaces which can then be shared by a number of users. The workspace can keep track of files, discussions, calendars, meetings, pictures etc. Once users have joined the workspace the copy on everyone’s machine is kept in sync and they are kept informed about what has been updated.You don’t have to be online to work on files either because you automatically get local copies.

Groove is also able to keep ordinary file folders in sync across different machines. I use this a lot to synchronise OneNote on my different machines and to make sure that my sermons, presentations & other documents are available to all my machines at home and at work.It isn’t good for database type files including Outlook .pst files but for most documents it works really simply. There is no need to open up paths through firewalls or struggle with changing IP addresses, Bill Gates takes care of that for you.

Nice one Microsoft – shame you have priced so many people out of grooving together.

Demo and free 60 day trial on the Microsoft site.

Xobni – inboX turned on its head

If you are a Microsoft Outlook user you should really give Xobni a try. It’s a free plug in which does a great job of bringing together related messages and contact details.

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Vista: built-in drivers not found?

If anyone else out there is experiencing the "joy" of transitioning from XP to Vista here's another tip which is helping to smooth my path. For some reason my Vista wasn't finding drivers for things like USB hard drives and flash drives despite the claim that it ships with 11,700 drivers. I just got a brand new "Vista compatible" flash drive/card reader made by Kingston plugged it in and what would you know…searching, searching…Windows was unable to find a suitable driver for this device. Checking Kingston's support site there was still no downloadable driver so I e-mailed their support. I got this this reply in less than 24hrs:


The problem you are experiencing is an issue caused by Vista. Vista is unable to find the location where its drivers are located.You can try to redirect Vista to the following folder: C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\FileRepository\ 

So full marks to Kingston, zero marks to Microsoft. 

TiddlyWikis

I've just watched an cool demo of the power of Tiddlywikis,which build an entire wiki system (think wikipaedia) into a single file. If you have ever felt the need to encapsulate knowledge in a set of hyperlinked documents, but didn't know how to go about bulding something like a website or needed it to be easily portable and distributable, here is what you need. No database or web server is required, everything is already built in. The range of possible applications is mind boggling

  • It's really easy to get started on your own TiddlyWikis by downloading an empty one from tiddlywiki.com and following the instructions