Monthly Archives: November 2013

You really need to empty your vacuum cleaner at least once in it’s lifetime.

Most people expect an IT specialist to be always in a suit and its a clean office based job, well I have news for you, we are often scrabbling around on the floor and dealing with dirt and filth.

Imagine you have a box on the ground, it is on all day and maybe night, whenever the office is open, it sucks in the air (Dust and everything). Your cleaner comes in with the vac and stirs the ground a bit more.

Five years have passed, open the box and what do expect to see? something like this?

Its what we see every day when we open up a machine that has sat on the ground for a couple of years. Apart from being less reliable as there are mechanics inside every computer its a fire risk and unless a machine is cleaned each year this is what can happen

The picture on the left is what a two year old heatsink looks like and the photo on the right is what it should look like. A processor gets hot, like a 100w bulb and you wouldn’t want to handle one of them without gloves

The heatsink takes the heat away and the fan puts cool air on it and the temperature goes down. If the heatsink is clogged then all the fan is doing is “stroking the fur”. The device gets hotter. If its an Intel based computer the first you will know is that it has stopped. If its an AMD it will stop before it overheat and its hot enough to start a fire, and whats in the machine? Loads of flammable fluff.

This is a comparison of a few years ago, Intel computers slow then stop. as opposed to the smoking AMD. One reasons we don’t like AMD, there are loads more reasons but that will do for now. 

So remember when you empty your vac maybe you should get your computer emptied too?

How many miles has your computer or TV done?
We dont all get together at cmx that often as we are all working on the road and everything online and between us as individuals. well last week was unusual for two reasons, Snow was predicted for November and five of us were working at one site.
The conversation drifted from the usual banter to a very serious subject, how many miles has a TV or computer done in five years.

We can gauge the age of most things, like a toddler, teenager, house just by knowing the age but a car?

We tend to think that a car thats done over 100,000 miles as unreliable and over the hill. If it was a year old and had done 50,000 we tend to think, rep’s car. Over 5 years old and a high mileage then we would expect it to be reliable. So we would change it whether it had gone wrong or not.

But a TV or computer? Theres no way of instantly kknowing whether its any good or not because there is no real way of measuring it’s age. 

So we came up with the har far does a computer travel.

Let me explain:

A car averages 50 miles per hour throughout its life, so I am told, so if you drive 20,000 miles a year then you will have spent around 8 hours a week driving. The maths is simple but as we all seem to losing skills like spelling and writing (or we are getting lazy) I will lay it out; 20,000 miles @ 50mph=400 hrs. 400/52= as nears as eight hours as makes no difference.

Now if we look at a TV, its on for about three hours a night, 7 days a week, thats roughly 1100 hours a year, so if it was a car it would travel 275,000 miles over five years. What about a work computer. On at 9am off at 5pm, five days a week for 50 weeks. over five years thats 500,000 miles.

I don’t know about you but I think thats really a long distance.

I have a very old car which cost £30,000 when new. I keep as it doesn’t owe me anything, its done 188,000 miles, is cheap to run and insure and I don’t trust it not to break down one day. I have RAC get me home cover, another newer car and access to another just in case.

You really should feel the same about your computers? We have something for £3 a week that might be just what you need, its cheaper than having three spare computers. 

I usually write about IT related things but I have been attending networking events.


I have been to 9 in 9 days.

The answer to the ultimate breakfast networking question is at the end.
I made the rash decision a fornight ago that I would dive back into the world of business networking in North East Essex and Colchester in particular.
I say back, but I have been networking in Ipswich /Suffolk for the last four years.

Let me explain. My introduction to business networking was 10 years ago, when Yellow Pages still worked and before Blogs / Linked-in etc. I joined Colchester BNI for two years and it’ was good for business, it then became the “Can I have an ink cartridge” type of meeting so I left, I think I really didn’t get the BNI model so I became the ex-BNI ex-networker (Cynic).

Most of our business is in the northern half of Essex and in Suffolk it based on the A14 / A12 / A140 corridor.
In 2008 Suffolk business was shrinking because of mergers, closures and takeovers and because of the recession, Business with shipping related companies literally sank in a few months (pun intended). Suffolk went from 37% of our business to 10% in one year.
We had a meeting, its always good if you want to do something direction, and I run a “democratic dictatorship”. This means I ask everyone what they think and then the directors usually endorse my decision. 

The solution everyone at CMX came up with was to get more work in Suffolk! – BRILLIANT! What deep thinking! I was moved! I did ask how and the consensus was to send me out into the public as apparently I am the right person and with my public speaking experience, training and lecturing ability coupled with the fact I have done it before made me that natural choice for everyone else. 

So off I went, researching, phoning and discussing. Not being one to make enemies I will tell you what I found.

The timing choice

There is no “best” time for a networking meeting. I rise at 5.30am for BNI, I have finished by 8:30am so it doesn’t dent my day, well it does, I have to have a 20 minute doze sometime during the day. 7:30am / 8am starts mean that I will be back in my office at 11am by the time I have wound up my talking ( I can chat for England and probably France too).
We are then in to the lunchtime networking, These usually start at 12 but I need to leave work at 11am which means starting to clear the decks at around 10 which is 30 minutes after I have seriously got my head down to work.
The meetings are over and I am back at the office at three, ready  to handle everything that happened while I was away having lunch.
Evenings are fatal for me, I spend two nights a week working with youth. So if its a free evening I tend to be with the family, eating and relaxing. Most evening do’s are in bars and are when my stomach is expecting replenishment and not masses of diet coke. I dont drink and drive. 

What networking groups are there?
Networking in NE Essex & Colchester seems to be a well kept secret. Its quite difficult to find the groups.  However, I think I have cracked it. I have been to ColBiz, BNI, 4N, Tendring Breakfast club and five others. Thank God I had a weekend to oversleep, although my wife did wake me up with a cooked breakfast as a joke on Saturday!

Now to the groups:

They are all different but I have come away with the following information from each:

  • They all think they have found the best networking answer
  • They all think their breakfast / lunch / beers are great
  • They all think BNI (except one) is rubbish, too strict and expensive
  •  Some just “Do breakfast / Lunch / Drink” and its like a cheapo rotary to build relationships.

They all will lead to business and I can get the people I met business too, BNI experience will teach you that this is most importatnt.

Colbiz 8pm Alternate Friday’s Balkerne Gate Colchester

Colbiz is a Friday night at the Balkerne gate, you get to stand which aids mingling, you get a turn to hold the ladle, which allows you a minute’s pitch and you all get to hear a ten minute presentation, there is also a raffle based on business cards. Nice relaxed fortnightly get together to build relationships at the end of the week. Total cross section from the small business person to the suits. I found coke at £2.50 the best value drink, it was “bottomless”. I’ll be back
Tendring breakfast club 7.30am 2nd Wednesday, Charnallies Bar and Restaurant, Clacton 

I have never been to a monthly meeting before, the nearest to this was, the sadly no longer, Larking Gowen meeting at Hintlesham Hal.
This was relaxed and seemed to be mainly a “Suits” occasion. You stand talking and drinking the usual Tea and Coffee. You then sit to eat your  breakfast and someone does a presentation. I was surrounded by three bankers, two solicitors, an insolvency practitioner and a dentist. Nice people, we discussed Bury theatre and shows in London. No business but a real mix and chat with “suits”, not a plumber or Utility Warehouse person anywhere near. Nice bunch, I can easily live with this one at once a month. 
BNI 6.45 in Colchester and Ipswich
As I can’t go to either the Castle or Heritage BNI in colchester as thgey have a one seat one profession, I went to my own chapter in Ipswich. I love BNI, it works for me and the Ipswich chapeter in particular. I have been in BNI for 6 years and four of that in Ipswich. Nuff said.
4Niz 8am Alternate Friday’s Balkerne Gate Colchester
The website doesn’t tell you much and I didn’t know what to expect but it’s brilliant, I am joining, and it doesn’t conflict with BNI membership. You can have several people from the same profession, its fortnightly, you have to book in or you don’t have a place as its limited to 33, you get three ten minute 1-2-1’s with people you choose, and there is a ten minute slot where you can’t do the hard sell.
When I went it was about charity cycling in France with a “Minion” mascot. There were also three BNI’ers there I knew. I did more networking in one meeting than I have ever done before in one go. I had meaningful sessions with three people, got to know about the 10 minute speaker, had a good breakfast with TWO fried eggs, did my 40 second presentation and was invited to an Ipswich meeting. 
Outstanding, lets measure the business after a years membership.
 In conclusion the ones I have mentioned I will do again, the others I havent mentioned (I bet you know who you are), Sorry I am there to give and get business. Period,
I can have the best breakfast and start early/late at home. But without networking I cant meet and build relationships face to face with everyone in the room, give and get business.
My top favourites have got to be BNI and 4N, thats where my membership money is going because I will get profit back that exceeds the cost. I will stick to social things to get social-business for my networking friends and business-like things to find business-business. I will receive business in return

The answer you are seeking?
I hope you read all the way through first but the ultimate question – The best breakfast? It’s got to be 4N and BNI Ipswich. I hate mountains of stiff scrambled egg, watery bacon and value, undercooked or over-herbed sausages. 4N best on quality but BNI gets the quantity vote but there is a lack of bread. One oeveriding point I always carry mustard in my briefcase, no one else seems to supply a decent one, if at all, for breakfast

How to Backup Your Business Data


The Conclusion!

There is a lot of information here so we have made it easy, here is the conclusion, if you want to know why then read the whole article, but we know you are busy so there are headlines and explanations. You can backup with less or smaller drives depending on your circumstances but this is the usual situation. These prices included installation and configuration.

You need at least two back drives, the internal ESATA types are fastest and most reliable. If you have a backup and its just a few metres away from your computer then you don’t really have a backup, you just have a handy copy of your data because whatever happens to your computer will happen to the backup such as fire or flood.


Everyone who uses a computer to save or store files will at some time or another experience that heart stopping moment when they realise their files are lost.

Don’t let those files be lost forever. It’s plain and simple: if you use a computer, you need to backup your data. It’s not a question of whether you should, but rather how you should…

Every day individuals, businesses, and organisations lose their precious files due to a drive failure, inadvertent deletion, or other unwanted action or event. The result is a great deal of stress, anxiety, and in the case of businesses, lost revenue and it can be as serious as a lost business.

The computer hard drive that stores all your data has moving parts, and in time your hard drive will wear out and fail. It’s just a matter of when. You need to keep a copy of all your important data somewhere else.
Apart from hard drive failure, there are many other likely scenarios that may result in the loss of your valuable files like power failures and spikes, or system and file corruption due to viruses, worms, or other malicious attacks.
You need to know whether you back up DATA or YOUR COMPUTER. There’s a huge difference between those two. The data is just the information you have added such as e-mail’s, accounts, spread sheets and documents.
When your computer was made it was already installed with basic programs and set-up. Someone had to make it useful by installing more software and settings which creates the DATA. You then started using it and that’s when you created DATA. So we have your computer in three states, new, ready to use and being used.
So, if you created a dozen documents in Microsoft Word, then most automatic backup systems would “back up” those 12 documents. However, its important to note that these  backup services will NOT backup your Word software. If disaster strikes, you’ll need to install Word once again to be able to open those 12 files.
So if you only backup the DATA and have a disaster and start again with a new or repaired computer you wont have all the programs reinstalled or backed up so the system wont be back up and running again as it was. If your system was on a server then there are many more settings made to it.

Backup Location
Now for a word about redundancy. Let’s say tomorrow when you come into your office, you hit the button to turn on your computer and you’re greeted with disk failure. If that happens, you’ll be VERY happy that your external drive is sitting right next to your CPU with all your data backed up on it.
However, if you enter your office tomorrow and find your desk under water… you will be wishing your external hard drive wasn’t floating right next to your computer. At that point in time, you will realise that DVDs you made as redundant backups which are floating nearby may or may not be salvageable. A thief won’t leave it behind either. At a time like that, you’ll wish your data was safe and sound off site.
You need to store a copy of all your important files in a different location to where your computer is situated. At the very least, keep your copy in a different location in your home. If possible, keep your backup copy in an entirely different building.

So the answer is broadband off site online storage, whatever that is, isn’t it?  Some choose to backup their data onto remote servers using the services of off-site backup over the Internet. Be mindful however that your data is your responsibility. The moment you transfer that data to a third party to keep safe, new risks involving the potential compromise of that services’ availability and security arise. This form of backup is usually not a good choice because a backup made using this method is a single generation so you wont have every months payroll, just the last one and to make a copy of everything will take up a lot of space and time so Internet online automatic backup storage services will only back up the hard DATA on your computer.
Another consideration is the speed of your Internet connection. You may have been promised up to 20 Mb download speed but what about upload speed? That’s when you send data to the Internet. Its usually around 1/2 Mb because you usually send a few search words to get pages of information back.
The only way to make safe multi-generation backups is to take them off site.

The Ultimate Backup
There are circumstances when a backup might also be corrupted or inadvertently overwritten. Regularly creating a backup stored in a different location, although less convenient to administer, provides you with the greatest security against losing your data. If however you are unlikely to backup often to this third location, it’s not going to be worth your while as a backup needs to be updated frequently to be of any value.

What Should Be Backed Up?
In addition to your financial software, inventory control, customer databases, and other specialist business files, pictures, videos, music, Microsoft ® Office documents, spreadsheets, databases, Internet Favourites, e-mail’s etc., you’ll also want to keep a copy of all the programs you use so that if necessary they may be easily reinstalled at a later date. Its tricky for a you to find all your files, you may have all your documents in “My Documents” but accounts programs store them in their own folders and e-mail is usually in a hidden file several layers deep.
One especially important program to backup is the program you use for the backup procedure itself. You’ll also need to save the serial number for this program and others in a secure yet memorable location so you can restore your backup to the original location at a later date should you need to.

Bare-Metal, Image backup, Disk Imaging
To make an exact copy of your drive, including your Windows operating system, you must use ‘disk imaging’ software. Disk imaging copies the entire disk (the parts that are used) bit-by-bit. This results in a copy that will take up a lot of disk space, and take much longer to copy.

Disk imaging isn’t generally the best answer to backing up for a number of reasons.
Your Windows operating environment is constantly changing. Programs are installed, updated, uninstalled, and settings are changed. Many important security specific applications are also regularly and automatically updated. Anyone for example who users their computer to connect to the Internet should have in place Anti-Virus, Firewall, and Anti-Spyware programs that often update many times a week.
Another significant reason why creating a disk image of your drive is not an advisable routine backup procedure is that any and all misconfiguration of your system, dormant security threats, and the vast amount of junk data that is created and stored on your system, will also be copied. Much of this junk data cannot be deleted as it is generated behind the scenes in your system. This results in a decrease in performance and speed, and can also lead to system instability.
Lastly if you change your computer then it’s very possible that you won’t be able to restore from a disk image as that disk image contains all the drivers and settings for your previous computers hardware, which is probably completely different (e. g. different motherboard).
These issues, combined with the much longer, costlier (larger or more disks), and less convenient (more time consuming) disk imaging process inevitably means that for the average user, disk imaging is carried out far less frequently than the kind of backup that only copies your documents and information (usually under the ‘My Documents’ folder). Always remember that making regular backups to a different location is the key to an effective backup strategy.
People who use disk imaging often use file backup programs as well. For example, they take a snapshot of their hard disk using the disk imaging software, e. g. every week, month, or at ad-hoc times
How Often Should You Make a Backup of Your Files?
If you work on your documents each day, you need to backup at least once a day. The more impressive backup programs can also copy open and locked files so that a backup can be made even when you’re working on a document.
Many people benefit from backing up on a very regular basis throughout the day. Writers for example may be working on a draft and may wish to review an earlier version of that draft as they progress. This kind of backup is also possible depending on the software you use so that you can effectively rollback to an earlier version of your document.
The simple rule is how long would it take you to recover and how can it become a habit? If you could catch up on a weeks work in a couple of hours then backup once a week, If you lost a days work and could never catch up then its got to be every day.

Scheduling Backups
If you are using a manual system then get in the habit of doing it at the same time of day or day of the week. If it’s automated then get in to the habit of checking tat its worked, you could be backing up to a faulty disk.

It’s very easy to have your important files backed up without you having to remember to do so. The backup can be done automatically, every day, while you sleep. It can be done while you’re on holiday or out of the office. Computers are designed to help automate tasks, so let your computer and software automate your backups.

What Should You Backup Onto?
There are many different types of media that you may choose to backup onto, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. The first thing you’ll have to work out is what suits your particular circumstance.

It’s generally a good idea to choose media that allows you to backup all the data you wish to without having to ‘span’ the backup. For example, you may need many CDRs to backup all your information. The problem with this kind of backup is that it requires your intervention to replace the new media as each disk is required. A backup that can automatically run without your intervention will save you a great deal of time over the long run. An external USB hard drive for example can plug straight into a computer and provide an instant large capacity space for your backups.

If you’re a personal computer user the most immediate medium you’re probably going to consider is to backup to CDR/W or DVDR/W, however these mediums are also less stable over longer periods of time than you might realise. For pure convenience there’s nothing easier than making relatively small capacity backups to a USB memory stick that you can easily plug in, and then transfer to another location. If you’re a business with existing backup procedures, you may be using tape backup (which can be sensitive to heat, magnetism etc.), or you may be implementing a removable hard disk procedure.
Whatever you choose make sure your chosen media is easy to use, requires as little intervention as possible, and can easily be scheduled.

We favour the removable hard disk procedure. The advantage is speed. It fits internally and capacity. There are several types of disk in use however not all drives are suitable. As mentioned earlier a hard disk is a mechanical device with an arm moving over a platter. If this is subject to shock then the disk can be irreparably damaged. All disks have parking systems for safety but some park immediately they are powered off and others park when the disk has stopped spinning which can be several minutes giving plenty of opportunity for damage as the disk is removed. We only use the park first disks but they are more expensive, but what price safety?

Improving Backup Procedures
If you already have a backup routine it’s prudent to check it’s doing what you expect, and if necessary, to make adjustments to ensure it’s performing to your best advantage. Take care to read through and understand the documentation that comes with your backup program as there may be specific customisations that you may wish to make.

For example, you may want to configure your backup so that the program verifies that files are copied correctly, and that the backup makes safe copies by using temporary file names before renaming the file given the copy is successful.

Some backup programs assist you in the evaluation of effective backup procedures by allowing you to test any backup you do with a simulated run. This allows you to check the backup routine functions correctly without actually copying any files. In addition some packages keep you informed by sending e-mail information on all backups or just errors.

They say wisdom is learning from someone else’s experience. Here’s to your wisdom thanks to our experience.

Ten good reasons to avoid the cloud


Any IT system has the potential to go in the wrong direction, but the new versatility of cloud services will introduce whole new ways to go off the rails. Here are ten for starters

1. Assumption: the mother of all calamities
Vladimir Jirasek non executive director of CSA UK says that in migrating to and between different SaaS (software as a service) clouds, that there were an awful lot of assumptions made that weren’t actually true.

“IT managers don’t realise that in IaaS (infrastructure as a service) the responsibility to manage operating systems and application still rest on their shoulders,” says Jirasek.

So they continue on, oblivious to the fact that no one is taking care of the details. As they say in project management: who’s in charge of the clattering train?

In this case, the cloud provider is really a virtual hardware provider. This will cost you when you finally realise that the bulk of IT responsible for application integration and possibly for infrastructure management (operating system layer) is still needed.

The same applies to PaaS (platform as a service) though here the CIO is responsible for application integration only.

2. Shunted into an expensive siding
If you want to change Cloud offerings, that will cost you too. As will a retreat back into an internally managed service or an internal cloud.

“This is especially painful in SaaS where a bespoke application like SalesForce doesn’t give you a standard form of data that can be exported,” say Jirasek.

The migration from SaaS application has huge hidden dangers that will hurt many companies, should they ever dare to leave the SaaS provider. The cost, complexity and disruption of migration from SaaS will lock the company in to one provider.

“Many contracts don’t clarify who owns the data in the cloud and how you can get it back when the contract ends,” says Mike Small member of London Chapter ISACA Security Advisory Group. “This has caught out more than one large organisation.”

Mission cloud computing was supposed to give companies greater choice. Instead, many are imprisoned in an expensive contract. It is vital that the service contract clarifies ownership of data as well as the terms for the return of that data. It is also important, says Small, to ensure that the data is returned in a form that can be used without extensive processing

3. When you unwittingly move into a bad cloud neighbourhood
You wouldn’t open up a shop in Hackney in the middle of the riots, because you’d be able to see the risks. The problem with the cloud is you don’t know who your neighbours are, or how they’ll affect you.

What if the police had to seize your equipment as part of a sting against suspected criminals? It happens.

When the FBI raided a data centre in Reston, in Virginia, the ramifications were felt by Swiss-based DigitalOne, whose clients included New York publisher Curbed Network, service provider Instapaper and bookmarking site Pinboard.

The FBI was taking part in a co-ordinated operation with the CIA and various Western and Eastern European cybercrime bureaus. That’s a pretty comprehensive sweep and the all-encompassing seizures were bound to affect innocent users of the cloud.

DigitalOne’s chief executive, Sergej Ostroumow, was unhappy that the company’s web servers were seized and that he had to satisfy clients who were hit by up to three days of downtime.

“In the night the FBI took three enclosures with equipment plugged into them,” he told clients, “possibly including your server – we cannot check it. This problem has been caused by the FBI, not us.”

Though it was only interested in one of the company’s clients the FBI took servers used by “tens of clients,” Ostroumow said at the time.

His complaints about the FBI’s ‘unprofessional work’ fell on deaf ears. With the authorities conducting a cyberwar on the likes of Lulz and other hacking organisations, there could be a lot of victims of friendly fire in the cloud, warns Small.

While this example comes from the US, laws in most jurisdictions allow law enforcement agencies to seize equipment and data. Some countries may be an even higher risk – for example where there is a corrupt or autocratic regime that ignores international agreement

4. When your data is destroyed accidentally by your service provider
These things happen in the cloud. Microsoft reported that its Windows Live service had been experiencing problems dating from 30 December. “We had an issue with Windows Live Hotmail that impacted 17,355 accounts,” it admitted on a Windows team blog.

Customers affected temporarily lost the contents of their mailbox through the course of mailbox load balancing between servers. “We identified the root cause and restored mail to the impacted accounts,” Microsoft reported.

It assured customers that, with the problem solved, it would investigate, as it does with all incidents like this and take steps to prevent this from happening again.

Not good enough, according to one complainant, who testified the impact this loss of data had on his business.

“My inbox of over 8000 emails from the start of this address over 10 years ago is still gone. My emails were completely gone from late Oct 10 and prior. I am devastated by this loss, my life, business and tax info was all in this email I accessed daily,” said the user, known only as Westcoastborn, on the WindowsLive site.

“I was given some inadequate responses and then ignored by hotmail support,” he complained. After ten years of doing business in the cloud, he’d lost everything.

5. When the FSA finds out your cloud service is not compliant with FSA regulations
Whatever the regulations your organisation is bound by, a cloud service provider will claim to understand them. For example, personal data must be processed in accordance with the EU personal data protections laws.

If your cloud service provider holds that data somewhere where it is cheaper to do so than in the EU (and how likely is that to happen) your company won’t have the appropriate processing contracts in place. In the case of data privacy remember that the buck stops with the data controller (ie the organisation) owning the data not the data processor (ie the cloud provider).

Data privacy is not the only compliance issue and it is vitally important that the regulatory requirements for the cloud service are made clear to the provider and that the provider is legally bound by a contract to provide a service that meets these requirements.

6. When your intellectual property is stolen by a cloud service administrator.
Cloud service providers are no different from previous generations of service or product vendors. They can’t afford to re-invent the wheel for every client. Service providers only enjoy the economies of scale if they can find a model that can be mass-produced. Otherwise, your profits will be eaten away by a labour-intensive production process.

So the work you put in to create your cloud administration – effectively your intellectual property – could be used as a model for others. The service provider doesn’t want to re-invent the wheel for each client. It’s far cheaper to get you to do the work or use your installation as a learning experience.

This presents security problems that could cause your company enormous grief later. The cloud infrastructure needs to be maintained. To achieve this there are a number of very powerful admin accounts that can bypass normal security controls, warns ISACA’s Small.

7. Disaster strikes when your data is found on the hard drives sold by the cloud provider.
We all know that data deleted from a hard drive is not really destroyed. It is merely rendered inaccessible and the data blocks are marked as available. Even most end users know that, until someone overwrites that data, it can still be found.

Clearly, some cloud providers didn’t know that. Or care to take the steps to shred this data.

Researchers from BT and the University of Glamorgan who bought disks from a variety of global sources found all kinds of sensitive information. Bank details and NHS records were found, along with enough information to help shoot down intercontinental missiles.

Of the 300 hard disks it bought randomly, 34 percent still held personal data. The information was enough to expose individuals and firms to fraud and identity theft, says Professor Andrew Blyth, who led the research.

Along with bank account details and medical records, they found data about a proposed $50bn currency exchange through Spain.

Most organisations still have no idea about the potential volume and type of information that is stored on hard disks says Blyth.

8. When the Cloud is breached and your valuable secrets come tumbling out
In the cloud everyone can see your silver lining. That’s not always the case, but there is evidence to show that your data is easier for criminals to get their hands on.

Hackers can burst through your shop window and loot your database, as long as they can find one of the user names and password combinations that are floating about.

The European Union had to suspend registries on its spot carbon-emissions market after permits were stolen. It can’t lift restrictions until members beef up security.

On 19 January this year one Czech trader found his $9 million account had gone. As many €29 million worth of permits are missing, according to the EC’s accounts. Given that no EC accounts are ever signed off, who knows how bug the real fraud could be. Holcim, the Swiss cement maker, lost 1.6 million permits to CO2 thieves.

The EU market was supposed to be the model for a future global carbon programme. It went from being an 80 billion euros market, in 2010, to no market. That’s an 80 billion euro cloudburst, and all because nobody secured the permits. In one of the classic cases of assumption, the EU left this job to the national registries. Who in turn assumed it was somebody else’s job.

It could take “a long time, possibly years,” to finally resolve who are rightful owners of any stolen EU allowances, says Owen Lomas, a London-based consultant at Allen & Overy LLP’s climate change practice.

9. When your cloud service provider’s provider goes bust and lawyers circle the building
The cloud service you buy might be reliant on a Cloud service that it buys from some anther cloud outfit. Who knows where they get their service from.

When one of them goes bust, your chances of retrieving the situation are slim chance and no chance. If more than one goes under – and it’s likely that they’ll tumble like a house of cards – that last slim chance will disappear too.

“It is really important to understand who is involved in providing the service to you and where these organisations are located,” says Mike Small (referenced above) a member of the London Chapter ISACA Security Advisory Group. This is not just a question of whether the supplier will go bust, it also concerns the compliance issues regarding where data is located as well as the reliability of the service provided to you.

Beware the legal costs involved in trying to unpick the cloud service agreement that one of your subsidiaries signed, says Small.

Most large cloud service providers offer a take it or leave it contract. This usually involves the whole organisation in the deal even though it may have only been signed by one employee.
10. When the Cloud Service Becomes Obsolete

Logica’s UK cloud lead, Stephen Simpson, says clients can end-up buying a vendor’s re-branded proprietary solution and associated services that the vendor does not evolve in step with the market.

“Cloud solutions and services are immature, and we know that there will be significant advances and changes in how they are engineered and delivered over the next few years,” says Simpson.

“We want our clients to be in a position to take full advantage of what is happening,” he says. “But this means getting the right balance between the risks of lock-in, short term delivery pressures and the longer term uncertainty over which technologies and vendors will win through.”

A balance that many companies won’t get right. So are the risks worth taking? Hang on, is it a risk? Surely the cloud is about avoiding risk, isn’t it?

Mike Small believes that the risks of not adopting the cloud often outweigh those of adoption. This is because cloud providers are big to afford the skills and equipment needed to provide a secure and resilient IT service. They can also invest in improving their services.

Cloud computing is a tactical investment and it can help you avoid the risks inherent in big IT projects. But, as we shall see, it brings a new generation of uncertainty. Having said that, it’s true to say that while client server computing didn’t kill off the mainframe, it was massively successful in its own right.

Cloud computing does eliminate many of the risks of owning your own infrastructure. Just make sure you are fully aware of the new ones.

The ins, outs, ups downs about Cloud computing and why I’m not a fan and why you might be.

I always worry when someone wants to push something and there are so many people wanting to sell the products. All “good” things that are being pushed and pushed by marvelous claims remind me of PPI, extended Warranties and other Scams. I am a victim of the Lehman brothers, Endowment Mortgages and a Pension, so I am sceptical.

After a lot of investigation here is the offical cmx business computing view on Cloud computing.

If you are either so poor that you can only afford monthly payments or are really rolling in cash, travel the world, don’t care if you lose information and get data corrupted and you have fantastic Internet then its a good thing.

There are currently two options in computing; either own your own equipment, look after your data or don’t. It’s exactly the same reasoning that you would use to either own your own car or just use taxi’s.

Let me explain but first you need to know what the “cloud” is
Theres a simple answer, “when you store your information or use programs over the Internet on someone else’s computer and you use the Internet to access it.”

Is it any good? Yes, No, maybe so – like everything else it depends. Lets put it in simple terms. You can buy your own car, service it, tax it, store it, clean it, insure it, fuel it, drive it and finally replace it or use a Taxi where you pay for usage. The car will cost you 0.25p a mile and a taxi around £2 a mile. So why don’t we all rush out and use a Taxi, tell you the truth Having now written this paragraph I don’t know the answer, however, I won’t be getting rid of my car anytime soon, I just won’t and I am not even going to do a cost comparison.

What does the cloud do for me?
We need to look at what the cloud is and I am going to split the answer in to two simple items. Information and programs.

Your information is your data, facts, figures, documents, diaries, emails, photos, in fact anything you put on the Internet. The programs can be a simple task list or mail on Google which are free, or a paid for product such as Microsoft office 365. This is also known in the jargon as SaaS or Software as a Service.

Its all stored stored elsewhere, it might be free for a small amount but if there is a lot of it then you will pay to keep it there. It’s like self storage, you have to go there to get to your property or look at it and the bigger the storage the more you pay.

Its the same with the cloud, its somewhere else so you need to have access to a computer and a connection over the internet. It does have an advantage though, wherever you go if there is an internet connection you can use your stuff, and you can let others use it too.

Is it a good thing?
As with everything there are good and bad sides and it’s all designed to confuse probably for your disadvantage.

There is always an ulterior motive. Google provides free applications with the hope that you will take on Chrome and next time you want a laptop then you will buy a Google Chrome computer to go with your Android phone. More turnover for them. Everyone else charges so much a month, just take that figure and multiply by 60. That’s what it will cost over five years, now find out how much to buy and you will see my point. With Office its £10.10 a month thats £606 over five years. The program costs £169 to buy a license for.

So cost wise, it may appear attractive but Microsoft know how often you change your software.

Why go in the cloud?
There are only three reasons, cost, security and accessibility.

Basically you are paying each month and not an up-front payment for five years.

You can never buy cheaper and get better and when was buying the cheapest the best reason anyway. Well, well, the cloud isn’t cheaper anyway. You will still need your own computer and over a five year period the software will cost you a fortune and the more you store the more you pay. The average business has 250 Gb of storage.

Item                             Cost over 1 year        Cost for five years
Own Office Licence                                                 £169.00
Office 365 (Cloud)            £121.10                          £606.00
25Gb storage (Cloud)       £513.00                       £2,565.00
250Gb Storage (Cloud)  £2,508.00                     £12,540.00

Privacy & security
In all honesty your own system is quite private and secure, nearly every broadband has an acceptable firewall, that provides some protection as does even the most basic anti-virus.

When you sign up to put your information on the internet you are handing over to someone more likely to be hacked and you don’t have a clue if they have better security than you, as for privacy then everything out there is available to anyone determined enough to want it. Recently a data storer advised every single user to change their password as a precaution, yes of course it was a precaution – not? What about the data left on the disks when old ones are thrown away?

It can all still become a victim of theft, fire vandalism etc. The other downside is that its a single generation copy. In other words if you have a corruption on your Sage accounts then it might be the only backup with the same problem.

As we have said before you can access and share your data with everyone no matter were you are. There are other ways of doing this, All business computers come with RDP, you just set this up and you can access your computer wherever you are, or if you need to spend money then use Logmein or GoToMyPC.

Anything else that can go wrong?
The down side is Internet speed, to use the cloud you need a reasonable Internet service. There are two speeds, upload and download, When you send a query to Google such as “who is who at cmx computers” You send about 30 characters what you get back is about 2,000 characters. Upload is slower than download. Upload is about 0.6Mb and download is between 1 and 60Mb. This means when you send your data there it takes 33 Seconds for a 10Mb picture but to receive it takes between 5 and .01 seconds.

Imagine you are backing up and retrieving 1Gb a day. That’s 28 minutes depending what time and how many home users you are sharing with.

If you have less than 4Mb of internet then forget it – thats actual speed, not what was sold to you.

So you need to consider the down side of privacy, cost, speed, accuracy and lastly a question that only you can answer. Do you want your information in the hands of someone else?

Anything good about the cloud
Now the upside; You will always have the latest software, you don’t have to worry about holding data or programs on your own machine. This can be the big decider for many users, you can use a smaller less capable device and you can use anything anywhere. You can use your phone, tablet, net-book, laptop to access your files and use your programs.Conclusion
At the end of the day the cloud is not ideal for everyone for many reasons, dealers like ourselves find it a revenue stealer but it also makes it hassle free, so if cmx was as big as Dell and I wanted to cut costs I would sell computers with Cloud built in and then pass any problems to someone else.

You pays your money and takes your choice. With the cloud you keep on paying and paying, but its a slow continual payout which will frighten you when you add it up.

My conclusion is that the assumption about the cloud being good asre only valid if privacy, security, cost, immediacy & control of ones IT are not important to you. 

Not in my world however, how about in yours?

“Windows XP users six times more likely to be hacked than Windows 7 or 8. “

“Microsoft disclosed that at a Conference in Amsterdam on the 29th

“XP has been a beloved operating system for millions and millions of people around the world, but after 12 years of service it simply can’t mitigate the threats we’re seeing modern-day attackers use,” says Tim Rains, director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing.

Criminal hackers, as you might imagine, can’t wait. That’s because most consumers are clueless about the true scope of security risks. And thousands of companies, for economic and operational reasons, appear intent on continuing to use XP machines well after Microsoft officially stops supporting XP, which was launched in October 2001.

But the intense good-guy vs. bad-guy race to find and exploit new holes in Windows 7 and Windows 8 is not going to stop. The key point is this: Microsoft will continue to issue security patches for Windows 7 and 8, but not for XP.

Security experts anticipate that cybercriminals will move to take advantage. Historically, about two thirds of malware developed for Windows 7, for instance, work well on Windows XP, says Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer at cloud-based security firm Qualys

Using Microsoft Small Business Server 2003? You’ve got about a fortnight to save £5,000 off the replacement.


As we have said in a previous post Microsoft are ending the Small Business Server package.

This package was ideal, it was introduced so that small businesses with 5 to 25 users could have all the facilities that larger companies enjoyed the at a fraction of the price. This included exchange, SQL, remote desktop and various other packages and most businesses need.

It would appear that the entire reason for discontinuing an incredibly popular package is purely to increase revenue.

We recently provided a quotation for the installation of small business server in to a business. The owner decided that the time was not right due to lack of funds and he would put off the purchase into the new year.

We decided to look at exactly how much this delay would cost him. The difference was staggering, the delay would cost him over £5,000 more than if you bought now. If he decided to buy the entry level Microsoft server and use a system for his e-mail which was not exchange and to forgo SQL and it would still cost an extra £700.

Of course you can buy the entry level server from Microsoft and use the cloud to supply your e-mail system but over five years it will cost you an extra £700 if you ignore the fact that you will need to rent your software and hope that your Broadband is fast enough to cope.

To put this in some kind of context Microsoft small business server comes with everything you need, five user licences and SQL is a low cost add on. Microsoft standard server needs to have exchange, SQL and virtually everything else added to make it any more than just a simple file server. The real catch is in the licenses, each user will need a License to access files, to use exchange and to use SQL. This will cost over £300 per user and nothing is included with the original purchase, if you consider that the same user on small business server would only cost you around £60 and you can see that this soon adds up to a massive revenue increase from Microsoft by emptying your pocket for the same products.

So why is this news? And what’s the rush? That’s simple, when the current stocks run out, it’s a game over. There are only a few distributors of Microsoft Products and the one we use sold 10% of their remaining stock yesterday. If this carries on then your choices become extremely expensive in about a fortnight’s time.

Now it’s serious, Google’s being sued over search patents, not just Android or smartphone ones.

This looks a little more serious than the standard everyone making a smartphone sues everyone else making a smartphone patent cases. While there are indeed smartphone patents flying around in this latest spat the really important part of it looks to me to be that Google is being sued over patents that link search results to the advertising that will be shown up on them. That is, of course, something that is at the heart of the entirety of Google’s money making abilities. It thus strikes to hte heart of what the company is about, not just at something that can be engineered around.

The basics of the case are here:

Rockstar, the consortium that bought the Nortel patents for $4.5 billion, sued Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, HTC Corp, Huawei and four other companies for patent infringement in U.S. District Court in Texas. Rockstar is jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony.

Google is accused of infringing seven patents. The patents cover technology that helps match Internet search terms with relevant advertising, the lawsuit said, which is the core of Google’s search business.

There’s a little misunderstanding here:

That transaction cleared the DOJ as the team agreed to license the tech on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, as well as their commitments not to seek injunctions in disputes involving SEPs.

No, that’s not quite was said. The DOJ actually said that the companies had agreed that those patents which were SEPs would continue to be licenced on FRAND terms. But obviously, those that were not standards essential did not need to be. And yes it is very much true that Google is now being sued over non-SEPs and thus cannot rely upon any insistence upon FRAND terms.

Florian Mueller has the background documents here and has helpfully listed the patents themselves:

Patents-in-suit against Google

U.S. Patent No. 6,098,065 on an “associative search engine”
U.S. Patent No. 7,236,969 on an “associative search engine”
U.S. Patent No. 7,469,245 on an “associative search engine”
U.S. Patent No. 7,672,970 on an “associative search engine”
U.S. Patent No. 7,895,178 on an “associative search engine”
U.S. Patent No. 7,895,183 on an “associative search engine”
U.S. Patent No. 7,933,883 on an “associative search engine”

There is one innovative argument being used in the case:

The complaint tries to use the fact that Google bid for the patents as an extra point against the search giant. “Google subsequently increased its bid multiple times, ultimately bidding as high as $4.4 billion,” write Rockstar’s lawyers. “That price was insufficient to win the auction, as a group led by the current shareholders of Rockstar purchased the portfolio for $4.5 billion. Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe the patents-in-suit.
Google cannot say that the patents are not valuable since they tried to bid for them themselves: ergo, they must be worth to Google at least what Google was willing to offer for them. Myself, if I were defending against this idea, I’d say that sure, but they also cannot be more valuable than what we were willing to pay for them either: and nor can they be more valuable than what was actually paid for them (this idea is being asserted in another patent suit right now: a patent cannot be worth more than Intellectual Ventures actually paid for it).

At least that argument would limit possible licence costs to the $4.4 billion or so figure. Yes, it’s a large sum but as against Google’s revenues it’s pretty small. Especially when you realise that that’s the maximum possible value of the patents over their 20 year life.

Now, obviously no one knows what’s going to happen next. Whether the patents will be upheld, whether Google is indeed violating them. This is conceptually different still from most of the other patent cases that are roaming around. If the patents are valid and Google is breaching them then there’s no real workaround possible: they’re too basic to what is at the heart of what Google does. Quite what happens next I’m not sure, as I say, but this could become expensive quite quickly for Google.

It’s a much more serious case than most of the other patent spats floating around.