Monthly Archives: April 2014

Windows XP – NOTHING HAPPENED so far

– but what about the rest ?

XP went end of life nearly a month ago and so far not one vulnerability has hit the headlines, so far. I don’t think its a priority for any ne’er-do-well. There are much better pickings to be had from other software that went end of life but without all the fanfares.

This is the official line from Microsoft:

Microsoft will offer a minimum of 10 years of support for Business and Developer products. Mainstream Support for Business and Developer products will be provided for 5 years or for 2 years after the successor product (N+1) is released, whichever is longer. Microsoft will also provide Extended Support for the 5 years following Mainstream support or for 2 years after the second successor product (N+2) is released, whichever is longer. Finally, most Business and Developer products will receive at least 10 years of online self-help support

Believe it or not there were several products that went End of Support in 2010 but there were no news articles about that. That’s because its not as interesting but it is more worrying. These products went end of support in 2010, which is the same for all the products we are talking about here today.   
Server 2003
Server software is the least considered but the most important in any network environment. Ignoring all the tasks such as email, print and file serving what does it do?

The server is responsible for users and their security, crack the server and you have everything and it has always been the target for “Quality hackers”. All your data and emails are here so get in and the world is your oyster.

Every user should have a password and this is your first defence but in Server 2003 there was one user that was Automatic. That’s the Administrator account, armed with this and some password guessing software and you are in.
The server has several holes that are accessible and to use these all you need to know is the protocol, username and password. Seems pretty tight doesn’t it? You need four pieces of information. Well I have news for you. Nearly every server 2003 has hole number 3389 open, the protocol is RDP and Server 2003 has the username of Administrator, that’s three out of four now known to hackers and that’s the easy way in.

The server also manages the firewall and all the security, so if there are vulnerabilities, and there will be, XP was patched a few days ago for one last time ands it sorted out three on a system 12 years old.

Really if you haven’t replaced Sever 2003 by now you should be seriously well on the way to planning it, but its not that simple as the licencing costs for small business has gone through the roof to force you on to the cloud where Microsoft will squeeze three times as much money out of you over five years.

Office 2003
This is not as critical as XP or Server as it does not connect directly to the internet all the time Although that’s not strictly true, Outlook can get to emails and as it can run scripts it could be a target but I doubt it. Word and Excel also do internet searches but again its not that critical but its a good idea to upgrade as what you can do, and how you do it has changed a great deal.

Exchange 2003
This is quite critical as exchange handles your email out and in and has a whole set of things that can be exploited. If anything we would have advised clients to upgrade this as a higher priority than XP.

Its hard to be specific about the threats as we are not trying to exploit any vulnerabilities and the first we will know of them is when there starts to be large scale compromising of systems and plenty of breaches of security.

So our advice is that you wouldn’t use an out of date medicine so why risk your business health by taking chances?

Too  many business are worried about having the latest car or gadget rather than caring about what matters.

The current business problem is buying things

– it’s a scary thing to do at the moment.

The majority of businesses have survived since 2008 by cutting costs and waste and hanging in there, occasionally there has been a cash injection or a fortuitous sale but most have drawn their horns in and hunkered down.

Shrunken pot
That was six years ago and now is the time to invest, modernise and move forward but with so many demands on what is probably a shrunken pot what can you do about it?

I was talking to a good friend of mine who is in the Office Equipment businesses. They have plenty of quotes out there which will bring in £millions but no one is taking any decisions.

Its all down to fear, not only is the money pot smaller but there are so many ways to spend it and we have been trained in the last six years not to take a gamble. Couple that with the fear of interest rate rises and you have investment stagnation. The Chancellor knows this which is why he put investment relief so high up his agenda.

The ideal situation would be to borrow some money, but getting a fixed rate loan at a low interest rate is difficult and it hits the cashflow. You will also be paying for it long after the capital allowances have worn off, and when was a fixed overdraft ever available?

Using an old idea
Many years ago we used to offer equipment on a lease. It was tax efficient, spread the cost and it was yours at the end of the term. 

You see leasing is simple. You arrange the lease now, and the rates don’t change until the lease is ended so you know what you are laying out each month. The interest rates are low as they are based on the rate now unlike bank overdrafts which vary. So the cashflow is organised and you know what you are paying out.

That’s why we are offering lease / rental again.

Is it yours?
In a word no, but it will be at the end. You pay a figure, lets say £36.10 a week in monthly or quarterly instalments for equipment that costs £8,000 and at the end of the period 5 years the lease is at an end. We don’t want the kit back and neither does the leasing company, but you probably want to go on using it, so we buy it back off the leasing company and sell it to you for a quarters payment. That’s £469.30. Its known as residual buyback.

Claim the most against TAX?
Because you don’t own it you can’t claim capital allowances at 20% – You can claim 100% of the cost instead! If you buy and own equipment outright then you get 20% capital allowance in the first year and then depreciation on it after that. Because you are paying for a lease the whole amount is claimable. 

When the lease has ended you can claim the Capital allowance of the purchase price which is 20%, remember the £469.30? well £93.86 can be claimed back against tax and then a percentage after that.

Here is the maths based on the figures we have quoted.
<lotus_global gr gridcolor=”#c0c0c0″ height=”20″ lotus_format=”General” valign=”BOTTOM” width=”81″>

Total equipment cost £8,000
Repayments over five years £9,386
Less amount saved from tax £1,877
Saving from 2% inflation £195
Total cost of system £7,314


Now the same but with an outright purchase and capital allowances
<lotus_global gr gridcolor=”#c0c0c0″ height=”20″ lotus_format=”General” valign=”BOTTOM” width=”81″>

Total equipment cost £8,000
Less Capital allowances over five years £945
Plus loss of interest (8k @ 4%) £1,733
Total cost of system £8,788

That’s a saving of £1,474 or 18% on the purchase price and you haven’t had to find £8,000 up front.
This is just an example, the more you spend obviously the more you save and of course its all subject to status.

Charlatans5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cloud Backup

We at cmx come across as anti-cloud, we are not, but what we are against is that new breed of IT salesman which we called the “the charlatan”.

According to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia; A charlatan (also called swindler or mountebank) is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.

Perfect description; the word comes from French charlatan, a seller of medicines who might advertise his presence with music and an outdoor stage show –

 This sums them up exactly but we do not and cannot imply reverse logic that all  cloud sales people are charlatans. I speak of those who sell a very good product, for the right circumstances to the people who need it. I consider these as professional friends and I will be happy to recommend tyhem and introduce you to them.

The ones I speak of are those that in former lives sold double, glazing, PPI insurance, Cavity wall insulation, endowment mortgages and extended warranties, these are the guys who can spot an opportunistic bandwagon to leap on to make money on commission.
These are the guys we have a problem with and its to counter them that cmx appears to have adopted the anti cloud view. We are not anti-cloud, we are anti-charlatan. So we will carry on with the warnings.

1. Data privacy can easily be compromised by encryption key holders.
If your service provider has access to your encryption keys, your data is just not private.
Encryption is vital to data protection and most backup solutions offer it. However, encryption is not always a guarantee of security and privacy of business data. After all, if an employee at your data backup company can access your encryption keys, is your data truly secure?
Some service providers have responded to this concern by purporting to “” the key, saving it separately from data, and rotating it frequently. But no matter the steps taken, as long as the service provider has access to your encryption keys, your data is just not private. And a subpoena will force service providers to produce unencrypted customer data – even when encryption keys have been escrowed.

Another response to securing encryption keys has been to use an onsite server, behind the client’ firewall, to house encryption keys in order to guarantee sole ownership. However, this is not a true solution for cloud-based backups since there is still hardware to manage and maintain, defeating the purpose of cloud services. Additionally, an onsite server adds another point of potential failure, requiring additional data protection.

If your service provider has access to your encryption keys, your data is just not private

For maximum privacy, two-factor encryption key management is the recommended solution. With two-factor encryption key management, the encryption key is further encrypted using customer admin credentials, and only a token is stored in the cloud. With this solution, the service provider has zero access to encryption keys and customers avoid the hassle of supporting key servers on-premises.

Only customers have access to the key and, subsequently, their data, once authenticated.
And to truly guarantee privacy, the key is destroyed at the end of each customer session.

2. Choosing the wrong cloud could mean permanent data loss.Of course, most of ” cloud” actually exists at ground-level, supported by many connected servers and other devices which require electricity and protection from the elements. As much as dependability of data centers has increased over time, these server farms are still vulnerable to power outages, sabotage, and natural disaster.

This is why it’ important to understand the Service Level Agreements for any backup providers under consideration. Many cloud service providers don’ offer data redundancy across multiple data centers. In the event of a power supply disruption, service is suddenly unavailable and files are out of reach until the problem is corrected. A natural disaster, such as a flood, could even result in permanent loss of your critical corporate data.

Leading service providers offer data redundancy across multiple facilities, each of which is physically separate, located in lower risk flood plains and fed via distinct grids from independent utilities. These facilities are connected to different networks to ensure the
highest data availability and durability possible.

3. Local cloud backups can violate data residency laws.
Traditionally, cloud backup providers have employed a limited number of data centers
and housed those data centers within the borders of a single country. Adding Many cloud service providers don’t offer data redundancy across multiple data centers.
Server farms are still vulnerable to power outages, sabotage, and natural disaster.
5 Things You Didn’ Know About Cloud Backup storage typically requires following a multi-step process, often cumbersome and not immediate.

If your business has global reach, these localized backup providers are simply unable to offer a premium, worry-free experience. By definition, a global enterprise supports internal systems which are utilized by employees and other users all over the world, subjecting the enterprise to a specific set of laws in each country. Using localized cloud backup providers from a single country is not only inefficient but, in many cases, it results in a violation of local
data residency laws.

By contrast, leading cloud backup providers are equipped with multiple redundant data centers across the globe, enabling customers to control which data centers are used for their data backups. Leading providers also utilize an ” storage” concept, enabling customers to add storage instantly in any data center without having to worry about scaling their storage requirements.

4. Without deduplication, your backup speed is a fraction of what it could be.

One of the reasons traditional cloud backup systems can be very slow is that the software must compare the last file and directory structure with the latest file and  directory structure in order to determine what’ changed. Unfortunately, as much as 80 percent of data is duplicated across a typical enterprise. This is because users often have multiple copies of an identical file stored locally, as well as on shared or removable drives. This causes storage requirements to boom, considerably slowing cloud data transfer.

When backup solutions practice global deduplication, cloud backup and restore times are dramatically improved because an enormous amount of duplicate data has been identified and removed.

To perform enterprise restores quickly, a backup solution must also use multi-threaded restores in order to allow parallel transfers of multiple files. Using multi-threaded restoration significantly accelerates the time it takes to restore data to a user’ computer.

Traditional cloud backup systems without global deduplication can be very slow. Using localized cloud backup providers is inefficient and often results in violation of data
residency laws. 

WAN optimization will also speed up endpoint backups because WAN optimization
makes best use of the available bandwidth. If there’ a network interruption, WAN
optimization ensures that the dropped backup automatically resumes at precisely
the right point.

5. Outdated backup solutions severely restrict IT control.
Using older principles of storage technology, some backup companies are not able to leverage federated search, which can quickly locate information anywhere on the network. This is a challenge when attempting to track down a file or to enforce a new policy. Because federated search looks across every file and device in the enterprise, it becomes easy to locate files, gather or even collect them for legal hold, in order to preserve custodian data for e-discovery.

On the other hand, modern backup solutions empower IT with visibility and make it easy to enforce policies on data backup, restore, and access. These leading backup companies also make use of detailed audit trails to strengthen IT’ oversight and to prevent material information, such as intellectual property, from being compromised due to the increasingly mobile workforce. Detailed audit trails preserve a record of all user and admin activity, as well as provide real-time visibility, enabling organizations to support their governance
and compliance needs.

If the enterprise is subject to industry regulation, it’ well worth it to select a service provider that already has passed the requisite certifications (e.g., HIPAA, PCI-DSS, ITAR) for its data centers and operations. Without federated search, it is a challenge to track down a file or
enforce a policy

"egg"ccident 3Cancer, Car accidents, hacking, card fraud all have a lot in common – They only happen to other people, not you.

Is this arrogance, ignorance or what?

Everyone knows someone that something bad has happened to, if not then themselves, then someone close, or a friend, or a friend of a friend, maybe somebody in the same village or town even somebody living in a faraway country but in similar circumstances.

So in a word Sh*t happens, a lot, to everyone all the time so it can never be ignorance.  Maybe the alternative to “it’ll never happen to me” is a permanent fear that something is going to happen which is bordering on the symptoms of depression.

So if appers that we go around with an optimistic view on life to avoid the permenant worry of what’s going to happen next.  That’s fine as it enables us to lead a normal life of driving, shopping, flying kindly of the things we do on a day to day basis.

That’s really bad news, we need to establish some form of balance unfortunately we don’t.  The anytime we do this is when we plan for emergencies that are unlikely to happen.  When we go on holiday we take offense take a first aid kit and no one really leaves without insurance.  I even know someone who drains down the heating system when they go away, which is usually in the summer.
It’s the same thing that suddenly wakes us up at four in the morning and gets us to worry what speed we went past that little yellow camera on the side of the road.
All of these things do not really need to be worried about because although they do happen the chance of us facing a disaster like we have imagined is unlikely.

It’s also guaranteed that it won’t happen because we have planned what we would do in case of an emergency.  I sail in all types of boats, I wear life jackets, make sure that there is manoverboard equipment, first aid kits etc.  Luckily I have never had to use this equipment and I hope I never will.

Now the point of this article is that the things that almost likely to happen, in fact happen every day to lots of people are so far down their list of priorities that no thought is at a given to them even on a  yearly basis.

Your building is unusable – KEEP OUT
The day of the 1987 stolen I went to work as usual, I didn’t expect anything different nobody had called and apart from losing the side of my house, the large amount of trees I expected to roll up at our Colchester office and start work as usual.

What I didn’t expect was to see 36 people standing outside staring of the site of the building.  The whole side which was made of glass had been totally removed by the next door factory roof.  We had asbestos and glass all over 50% of the building.  In my office the carpet was ruined, the wall and door had glass embedded in it.  The computer screen was smashed and as it turned out all of are servers were destroyed.  “It” had just happened to us.

All backups were off site, we had spare equipment, another office and we were up and running again later that day.

We had a plan.
We had actually spent some time compiling everything we needed to implement a disaster  plan.  We started from the premis that we would arrive at the very large hole which was water filled that now replaced our 6,800 sq foot office building in south Colchester, we prepare the same plan for Ipswich.

We went around everybody in the company announced what they would need to be operational again, this was incorporated into the plan and tasks were delegated.  We looked at everything, wrote it all up and circulated plenty of copies.  Apart from the daily routine of data backup the plan was forgotten except when it came out to be reviewed once a year during a meeting of everyone, usually down the pub ensuring 100% attendance.

We had confidence that should a disaster strike we had done as much as possible.  Backups were tested and we had established a routine.

That disaster cost us nothing, not a bean, no cash flow interruption, no lost data and we were able on the same day to go out and look after clients who had faced thier own disasters.

We get 250 calls a year over lost data 
We get roughly one call a day from someone who has lost their  data, that’s over 250 calls a year. We have special software that can unscramble disk drives. No one else we know does this.

Only a fraction of the callers, as low as 2%, has an adequate backup.  Most of them think may have but they haven’t.  I suspect that that only 2% of all the people who start reading this article will get this far.  If you have then I am personally available to come to you and check your backup. Free of charge. That’s to prove my point. I will publish the results in a months time of who has taken me up on this my number is 01206 256459 or 01473 231800 ask for extension 25 and I will talk to if I am in, if not I’ll ring you back as soon as I can. 

Doesn’t have to be a big disaster, or even one you can see, you can have a virus, a hacking or fraud attempt. These can cost you so much more and in a shorter time. The difference is you may not know about it until its too late.

The moral is?
Its not down to arrogance, its all down to ignorance and ignorance especially about planning. I was once told “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, that’s a military adage. here’s another “Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance” and my particular favourite, Lack of preparation on your behalf does not justify an emergency on mine”. When bad things happen we react, its better to have the cool judgement of a previous “you” telling you what to do than the “panic you” running round in ever decreasing circles doing headless chicken impressions as you hard built up business disappears into dust & debt.

The moral is that everyone needs a plan, needs to check it and make sure it works. Our clients may not know it but we have a disaster plan for them too.  We have loan equipment and the expertise to get them up and running as quickly as possible.
This will all be useless unless the backups are good enough, they have the proper insurance policy and the ability to start up again somewhere else almost immediately.

Oh I forgot, its what happens to other people isn’t it? Like the people flooded in  Wales, Someset, London and the riots in Croydon, Brixton, Toxteth.

TECHIE POST: Hyper-V on the Client: How to install the hypervisor on Windows 8 to run Windows XP without security issues.

 So you know how to install Hyper-V in Windows Server, just use the Add Roles Wizard.  As that is not an option in Windows 8, it is slightly different.  Here you go, step by step:
  • SNAGHTML4b439You need to open the Windows Features screen.  There are two ways to do that.  The first is from the Control Panel, click on Programs and then Turn Windows features on or off
  • For those of us who like to use the direct commands you can click Windows Key-R to open the Run box, and then type appwiz.cplThis will open the Programs and Features window.  the option to Turn Windows features on or off is in the navigation pane.

In previous versions of Windows you could manage remote Hyper-V instances by downloading the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) from Microsoft.  Since Hyper-V is now included in the operating system, so are the management tools.  From this screen we see that we have the option to simply install the Hyper-V Management Tools and you are off to the races – nothing has changed.  (the two sub-options are Hyper-V GUI Management Tools and Hyper-V Module for Windows PowerShell)

  • Once you select the Hyper-V Platform Windows will check to make sure your system supports it – of course, it is a 64-bit only option, and virtualization has to be enabled in the BIOS – and then installs the role.  It only takes a few seconds, and then you will get the screen asking you to reboot.

As it is in Server, installing Hyper-V requires multiple reboots but because of the greatly improved boot time of Windows 8 that takes less than a minute. Once you are back in, the Metro Start screen has two new tiles:
As you see, the Hyper-V Manager and the Hyper-V Virtual Machine Connection tool are there and ready to go.  You can start creating and booting up VMs, as well as connecting to VMs both locally and remotely.

Remember, if you are going to manage or connect to remote systems, you will have a much better experience with domain-joined clients.  The security is still managed by certificates.
Now that we’ve got Hyper-V in the client, what are you waiting for people? Virtualize!

Windows XP’s date with destiny has passed….. What now? 

As of Tuesday, Microsoft will NOT be releasing any new security updates. With one in five PCs still running Windows XP, there’s a chance you are among those whose computer is now running an unsupported operating system. What now?

Doing an in-place upgrade to Windows 7  or 8 isn’t a good choice. Yes, it will keep all your apps and settings, but it’ll also preserve all the clutter and crud that slows down an old Windows install, and you’re limited to 32-bit Windows 7. You really need to nuke and start over.

But there’s another, little-known way to replace your old, unsupported OS with a new one that’s safe, current, gets updates and comes free of charge. The answer: run Windows XP as a zombie OS on something else.

Chances are you’re using WinXP for a particular application that’s incompatible with 64-bit Windows; backwards compatibility with legacy code was dropped to keep the size and complexity of the operating system down. Vista was the first 64-bit version of Windows to see much adoption, and its users suddenly found that some of their beloved but ancient apps didn’t work any more.

So, Windows 7 introduced a workaround: Windows XP Mode. This is a free download for Windows 7 Pro and above, comprising two files: a compressed virtual machine containing a complete, pre-installed copy of XP Pro, and a copy of Microsoft’s free desktop hypervisor, Virtual PC, preconfigured to run that copy of XP with desktop integration – so XP windows appear on Windows 7’s desktop and so on.

This has been dropped in Windows 8.x – the newer OS has its own built-in hypervisor, and by now, you’re meant to be running 64-bit native apps anyway.

However, XP Mode remains a free download, and with a little work, you can get it running on the cheaper editions of Windows 7, on Windows 8.x – and even on Linux (Ubuntu in my case). All you need is a different hypervisor.

If you’re a committed VMware user, then the freeware VMware Player will do, but otherwise, Oracle’s VirtualBox is free and open source. You only need proprietary code for the extension pack, which adds USB2 support among other things – but it’s still gratis.

You can download the XP Mode VM freely from Microsoft’s website, but to do so, your PC needs to pass Windows Genuine Authentication – so here’s a handy list of direct links that will serve you the file directly, whatever OS you’re running. Once you have the file, you’ll need a grown-up archiver to unpack it, such as Zip central.

You need an XP licence, of course – the copy in the VM is keyed against VirtualPC’s emulated hardware and will fail when running on VirtualBox, so you’re going to need a valid XP Pro licence key. Microsoft handily includes a key in the download file “sourcesXPMKEY”), but the chances are it won’t work. Of course, you may well have one on a sticker on your PC case or knocking around somewhere.

Just in case you thought running Linux had banished Windows Update forever… 

Once you’ve unzipped the download file, you’ll find another archive (“sourcesxpm”) inside it. Extract that, too. In there is a VirtualPC VM image and its virtual hard disk (“VirtualXPVHD”).
Next, create a new Windows VM – I called mine “XP Mode”. Move VirtualXPVHD into your new VM’s folder (“~VirtualBox VMsXP Mode”), insert a full stop in the appropriate place (“VirtualXP.VHD”), and when VirtualBox asks whether to create a new virtual HD or use an existing one, choose it.

Now you can boot your new VM. It has to go through the final stages of setup – that’s your chance to set it to a UK keyboard etc – and then it will finish loading. The snag is that the VM has the “VirtualPC Integration Components” pre-installed, and they won’t work under VirtualBox, meaning that the VM will lock up.

You’ll have to forcibly power off the VM, restart it, uninstall the VirtualPC gubbins, try to shut it down, watch it freeze again, close it, and reboot it again. It should restart OK, at which point, you can install the VirtualBox additions and reboot it again. Now, you’re in business, and you also remember why you wanted to get rid of XP in the first place.

Being popular helps mask your mistakes
Google may be seen as top of its game but it has launched some real failures too.

I was having a discussion about us Brits, how we always knock success and act with jealousy, I told the story that in the US someone going past in a swanky car would get the “Next year that’ll be me” comment but in the UK its “Why does a bastard Ba****d like that get such a swanky car, and not me, that’s not fair”.

We just have a different view on life and don’t accept that’s a. its not fair and b. you have to work for success. Maybe that’s why we have such a poor youth employment record compared to other countries.

So this got me thinking, there is usually a love hate with Brands, at the moment everyone has a go at Blackberry and Microsoft, years ago it was IBM and Lotus, now Apple and Google can do no wrong – or can thay?

Everyone loves Google, except for those pesky funny looking street view cars a few years ago but do you realise that Goggle has had many failures along the way?

1. Google Answers
Google Answers was Google’s marketplace for knowledge. Users posted a question and the amount they were willing to pay for an answer, and then researchers would answer the question. The community was too small and the service could never compete with Yahoo’s answers service.

2. Google Buzz

Google Buzz was a social platform for sharing content that was incorporated into Gmail. Buzz met heavy criticism and raised numerous privacy issues among users. It was discontinued in December 2011.

3. Google Latitude

Google Latitude was a location-based app that allowed users to find some of their Gmail contacts by proximity. It failed mostly because it was creepy.

4. Nexus Q

The Nexus Q was Google’s multimedia player challenge to the Apple TV. The problem was that the product was $300 and it didn’t really do much. At least it looked cool.

5. Google Wave

Google Wave was a classic case of “over promise, under deliver.” Google touted it in glowing terms at launch, but it never really lived up to the hype. The product was confusing and it didn’t really have a clear value proposition.

6. Google TV

Google TV was a smart TV platform launched in 2010. The implementation was clumsy and the products were not well-received. It’s rumoured that Google TV could be re branded as Android TV.

7. iGoogle

iGoogle allowed users to created a customisable homepage with widgets such as weather and content feeds. The company initially announced they would migrate the social features in 2012.

“With our new focus on Google+, we will remove iGoogle’s social features on January 15, 2012. iGoogle itself, and non-social iGoogle applications, will stay as they are,” said Bradley Horowitz, then vice president of product.

As it turns out, the other features weren’t all that useful so Google canned iGoogle in November 2013

8. Knol

This one I don’t even remember, Knol was Google’s challenge to Wikipedia. The site was plagued by plagiarism and poor sourcing, which ultimately led to its demise. Also, the concept of monetising knowledge was too strange

9. Web Accelerator

We disliked this when it arrived and we still don’t like Google Toolbars. Web Accelerator was a proxy server that sped up web surfing times by caching certain types of info. There were some privacy concerns and the product was buggy. It even kept users from watching YouTube videos

10. Lively

Another Google barely known. Lively was Google’s online 3D universe, similar to Second Life. Lively was too complex and didn’t offer enough customisation for users. It was barely six months old when Google killed it.

11. Google Print Ads

Yep, at one point Google started producing print ads in nearly 800 newspapers. It was Google running backwards and the revenue just wasn’t there.

12. Google Building Maker

Google Building Maker allowed users to make 3D models of buildings to be used in conjunction with Google Earth. Building Maker was too ambitious of a project and a community never developed around it, so the service was retired in 2013

There you have it, Googles lemons, or turkeys if you prefer. Every brand does it at least once, they might be good ideas but if the support form the user or buyer is not there then it will flop. Did I tell you that the IBM PS/2 was a brilliant computer concept, well it was and its architecture is still in use today in Mainframes. IBM went about selling them in such a way that they demonstrated that they couldn’t market free beer. 


21 things you really need to know  as XP goes “End of life” in 4 days


The facts
Your XP machine will still work.
77% of UK business still have at least one XP machine
It will take a while to find any new vulnerabilities. The last update will be sent next week, but it doesn’t mean that the next day you will receive any attacks
Its also end of life for Server 2003, Exchange and Office 2003, This should be more worrying as your emails with all the interesting stuff use these.
The advice from Microsoft is “Don’t click on bad stuff and backup a lot” Good advice anyway but not that helpful.
XP is twelve years old and the last package was sold six years ago. 
If you are staying with XP
Get up to date in April 2014, and check you have every patch that Microsoft has ever offered you. 8th April 2014 will be your last Microsoft patch, so you probably won’t be revisiting Windows Update.
Install a free spyware package, Malwarebytes is good and use it daily.
If you sit behind a router then that will give you some basic firewall protection.
Use an online Virus sweeper like Trend HouseCall or ESET
If you use one of the free or cheap AV packages then think about spending a little more money getting better protection. Sophos, ESET and Trend are recommended by cmx business computing.
Keep updating other software that you may be using, such as Flash, Java, your anti-virus, and more.
Consider tightening up the restrictions imposed by your anti-virus and your endpoint firewall (if you use one). If you must keep XP computers going, try to shrink their operational universe, so that they get used only when necessary, rather than whenever it’s convenient.
Remove all software and drivers you are not using. In fact, make an active effort to minimise the set of applications you permit on your XP computers. Even software that is still being patched depends on operating system components that aren’t, and it simply may not be possible for your vendor to work round lower-level holes in Microsoft’s code.
If your anti-virus has an Application Control feature, use it to enforce any software restrictions you decide upon.
Put your XP computers on their own network, and limit access into and out of that network as strictly as you can. If you can set extra, stricter network filtering for your XP computers, such as blocking email and instant messaging traffic, and preventing the use of social networks.
Urgently get rid of administrator-level user accounts if you have any left. You should have done this years ago, throwing out any desktop software which required administrator privilege to work. It’s now more important than ever to do this, in order to reduce the scope of an attack if hackers do manage to get in.
Get on with your personal or organisational efforts to get rid of XP. Tips don’t really buy you more time – they just reduce the risk while you catch up. Don’t be in this position again when 01 April 2015 comes around. 
Thinking of Windows 7 or 8?

Before you leap to Windows 7 have a good look at Windows 8, Its stable and can be just as easy to use as XP – if you buy from the right supplier. You wont have a Start button that you are used to.
You cant just move your stuff to Windows 7 or 8 that easily but there is an easy way by buying a piece of software which moves everything including all the programs too. You will need your product keys and passwords


Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving
(and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)
 Einstein's Secret to Jaw-Dropping Problem Solving
I have always had a soft spot for Einstein. He died at exactly the same time I was born and unknowingly, muntil recently,  I have been using his quotes all my life, That is sadly where our similarities end, Did I also ever tell you that I quote Sherlock Holmes too…………….

Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

This quote does illustrate an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. Here are 10 strategies you can use to see problems from many different perspectives and master what is the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!

The Problem Is To Know What the Problem Is

The definition of the problem will be the focal point of all your problem-solving efforts. As such, it makes sense to devote as much attention and dedication to problem definition as possible. What usually happens is that as soon as we have a problem to work on we’re so eager to get to solutions that we neglect spending any time refining it.

What most of us don’t realise — and what supposedly Einstein might have been alluding to — is that the quality of the solutions we come up with will be in direct proportion to the quality of the description of the problem we’re trying to solve. Not only will your solutions be more abundant and of higher quality, but they’ll be achieved much, much more easily. Most importantly, you’ll have the confidence to be tackling a worthwhile problem.

Problem Definition Tools and Strategies
The good news is that getting different perspectives and angles in order to clearly define a problem is a skill that can be learned and developed. As such, there are many strategies you can use to perfect it. Here are the 10 most effective ones I know.

1. Rephrase the Problem
When a Toyota executive asked employees to brainstorm “ways to increase their productivity”, all he got back were blank stares. When he rephrased his request as “ways to make their jobs easier”, he could barely keep up with the amount of suggestions.

Words carry strong implicit meaning and, as such, play a major role in how we perceive a problem. In the example above, ‘be productive’ might seem like a sacrifice you’re doing for the company, while ‘make your job easier’ may be more like something you’re doing for your own benefit, but from which the company also benefits. In the end, the problem is still the same, but the feelings — and the points of view — associated with each of them are vastly different.
Play freely with the problem statement, rewording it several times. For a methodic approach, take single words and substitute variations. ‘Increase sales’? Try replacing ‘increase’ with ‘attract’, ‘develop’, ‘extend’, ‘repeat’ and see how your perception of the problem changes. A rich vocabulary plays an important role here, so you may want to use a thesaurus or develop your vocabulary.
2. Expose and Challenge Assumptions

Every problem — no matter how apparently simple it may be — comes with a long list of assumptions attached. Many of these assumptions may be inaccurate and could make your problem statement inadequate or even misguided.

The first step to get rid of bad assumptions is to make them explicit. Write a list and expose as many assumptions as you can — especially those that may seem the most obvious and ‘untouchable’.

That, in itself, brings more clarity to the problem at hand. But go further and test each assumption for validity: think in ways that they might not be valid and their consequences. What you will find may surprise you: that many of those bad assumptions are self-imposed — with just a bit of scrutiny you are able to safely drop them.

For example, suppose you’re about to enter the restaurant business. One of your assumptions might be ‘restaurants have a menu’. While such an assumption may seem true at first, try challenging it and maybe you’ll find some very interesting business models (such as one restaurant in which customers bring dish ideas for the chef to cook, for example).

3. Chunk Up

Each problem is a small piece of a greater problem. In the same way that you can explore a problem laterally — such as by playing with words or challenging assumptions — you can also explore it at different “altitudes”.

If you feel you’re overwhelmed with details or looking at a problem too narrowly, look at it from a more general perspective. In order to make your problem more general, ask questions such as: “What’s this a part of?”, “What’s this an example of?” or “What’s the intention behind this?”.

Another approach that helps a lot in getting a more general view of a problem is replacing words in the problem statement with hypernyms. Hypernyms are words that have a broader meaning than the given word. (For example, a hypernym of ‘car’ is ‘vehicle’). A great, free tool for finding hypernyms for a given word is WordNet (just search for a word and click on the ‘S:’ label before the word definitions).

4. Chunk Down

If each problem is part of a greater problem, it also means that each problem is composed of many smaller problems. It turns out that decomposing a problem in many smaller problems — each of them more specific than the original — can also provide greater insights about it.
‘Chunking the problem down’ (making it more specific) is especially useful if you find the problem overwhelming or daunting.
Some of the typical questions you can ask to make a problem more specific are: “What are parts of this?” or “What are examples of this?”.

Just as in ‘chunking up’, word substitution can also come to great use here. The class of words that are useful here are hyponyms: words that are stricter in meaning than the given one. (E.g. two hyponyms of ‘car’ are ‘minivan’ and ‘limousine’). WordNet can also help you finding hyponyms.

5. Find Multiple Perspectives

Before rushing to solve a problem, always make sure you look at it from different perspectives. Looking at it with different eyes is a great way to have instant insight on new, overlooked directions.

For example, if you own a business and are trying to ‘increase sales’, try to view this problem from the point of view of, say, a customer. For example, from the customer’s viewpoint, this may be a matter of adding features to your product that one would be willing to pay more for.

Rewrite your problem statement many times, each time using one of these different perspectives. How would your competition see this problem? Your employees? Your mom?

Also, imagine how people in various roles would frame the problem. How would a politician see it? A college professor? A nun? Try to find the differences and similarities on how the different roles would deal with your problem.

6. Use Effective Language Constructs

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for properly crafting the perfect problem statement, but there are some language constructs that always help making it more effective:

Assume a myriad of solutions. An excellent way to start a problem statement is: “In what ways might I…”. This expression is much superior to “How can I…” as it hints that there’s a multitude of solutions, and not just one — or maybe none. As simple as this sounds, the feeling of expectancy helps your brain find solutions. Make it positive. Negative sentences require a lot more cognitive power to process and may slow you down — or even derail your train of thought. Positive statements also help you find the real goal behind the problem and, as such, are much more motivating.
For example: instead of finding ways to ‘quit smoking’, you may find that ‘increase your energy’, ‘live longer’ and others are much more worthwhile goals.

Frame your problem in the form of a question. Our brain loves questions. If the question is powerful and engaging, our brains will do everything within their reach to answer it. We just can’t help it: Our brains will start working on the problem immediately and keep working in the background, even when we’re not aware of it.

If you’re still stuck, consider using the following formula for phrasing your problem statement:

“In what ways (action) (object) (qualifier) (end result)?”
Example: In what ways might I package (action) my book (object) more attractively (qualifier) so people will buy more of it (end result)?

7. Make It Engaging

In addition to using effective language constructs, it’s important to come up with a problem statement that truly excites you so you’re in the best frame of mind for creatively tackling the problem. If the problem looks too dull for you, invest the time adding vigor to it while still keeping it genuine. Make it enticing. Your brain will thank (and reward) you later.
One thing is to ‘increase sales’ (boring), another one is ‘wow your customers’. One thing is ‘to create a personal development blog’, another completely different is to ‘empower readers to live fully’.

8. Reverse the Problem

One trick that usually helps when you’re stuck with a problem is turning it on its head.

If you want to win, find out what would make you lose. If you are struggling finding ways to ‘increase sales’, find ways to decrease them instead. Then, all you need to do is reverse your answers. ‘Make more sales calls’ may seem an evident way of increasing sales, but sometimes we only see these ‘obvious’ answers when we look at the problem from an opposite direction.

This seemingly convoluted method may not seem intuitive at first, but turning a problem on its head can uncover rather obvious solutions to the original problem.

9. Gather Facts
Investigate causes and circumstances of the problem. Probe details about it — such as its origins and causes. Especially if you have a problem that’s too vague, investigating facts is usually more productive than trying to solve it right away.

If, for example, the problem stated by your spouse is “You never listen to me”, the solution is not obvious. However, if the statement is “You don’t make enough eye contact when I’m talking to you,” then the solution is obvious and you can skip brainstorming altogether. (You’ll still need to work on the implementation, though!)

Ask yourself questions about the problem. What is not known about it? Can you draw a diagram of the problem? What are the problem boundaries? Be curious. Ask questions and gather facts. It is said that a well-defined problem is halfway to being solved: I would add that a perfectly-defined problem is not a problem anymore.

10. Problem-Solve Your Problem Statement

I know I risk getting into an infinite loop here, but as you may have noticed, getting the right perspective of a problem is, well, a problem in itself. As such, feel free to use any creative thinking technique you know to help. There are plenty to choose from:
Of course, how much effort you invest in defining the problem in contrast to how much effort you invest in solving your actual problem is a hard balance to achieve, though one which is attainable with practice.

Personally, I don’t think that 55 minutes of defining a problem versus 5 minutes acting on it is usually a good proportion. The point is that we must be aware of how important problem defining is and correct our tendency to spend too little time on it.

In fact, when you start paying more attention to how you define your problems, you’ll probably find that it is usually much harder than solving them. But you’ll also find that the payoff is well worth the effort.