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ZEBIS News Bulletin
November 2010
Zebis Covers the IT World
In this Bulletin:

:: Large Form Factor PDAs aka Internet Tablet
:: Secure Wireless

Z Tools & Tips:
Remote Access: Today's Service Delivery.

Virus-Free Computers: It really is possible.

An IT Audit might be just what your business needs: Find your vulnerabilities.
If you could keep your computer running all the time, would you?

A few quick, easy steps can be performed every month, alerting you if a problem exists and updating programs to close security holes.

Monthly Review Steps:

Review Hardware Logs
Review Error System Logs
Review Antivirus Logs
Perform Critical Security Updates (not automatic updates issued by the software company)

Ask us how.


Large Form Factor (LFF) PDA aka Internet Tablet: Fun!

Thinking of purchasing a LFF-PDA? Here are some thoughts and ideas to help you decide.

PDAs offer some neat advantages (no boot time, easy access to applications, generally no moving parts, etc.) LFF-PDAs combine those advantages with spacious displays and (sometimes) laptop or desktop size keyboards.

One of the first LFF-PDAs was the Psion Series 7 from the year 2000. This was also the first device to use the term "netbook". At the time, however, most users still needed a full computer for most use. As time progressed, Internet connections became faster, more resources were made available via the Internet, and general computer use has now become much more Internet centric, thus removing the need to run as many applications as frequently; the web browser has become, in many instances, the primary application.

Though there are certainly times when we need our full applications (full e-mail programs, specialized software, etc.), a large percentage of our use can now easily be accomplished with an Internet connected PDA. As you already know, LFF-PDAs are now being offered in varying form factors including the convenient tablet form factor which can be comfortable when sitting back and adjusting Netflix queues, reading articles, etc.

What's out there / What to look for: LFF-PDAs are offered with varying features, form factors, and priorities. The best ones are the most open (non-proprietary), enabling, dependable, helpful, and fun devices.

Things to look for:

* Can it tether? If your LFF-PDA can tether, you don't need a separate data plan as it can simply bluetooth connect to your cellular PDA or phone to connect to the Internet. Now if your LFF-PDA doesn't support tethering you may still be able to get away without having to have a separate data plan. If you pair your LFF-PDA with a handheld PDA that supports running as a WiFi router such as the Symbian PDAs by Nokia, then your PDA can share its cell signal with any device even if your other devices don't support tethering.
* How easy is it to move files? Do you need some proprietary program/third party service or can you simply connect it to your network and move files over the LAN without any additional software?
* Is the screen easy to read matte finish or highly reflective gloss finish?
* How easy is it to view the display outdoors?
* Does the device support a full web browsing experience including support for at least Flash 10?
* Can you get applications from anywhere or are you restricted to only getting applications from one exclusive store that only provides applications they wish to carry that won't compete with their (the store owner's) offerings?
*Does your LFF-PDA have USB ports for easy connections?

What are some neat LFF-PDAs

* Archos 10.1 and Archos 7: These run the open Android operating system providing access to applications from many application stores and even from the developers directly giving you access to all applications made for the platform. These come with a choice of an easy to carry 7" display or spacious 10" display. In addition, this unit features full USB ports so that it can connect to flash drives, hard drives, etc.
* Blackberry Playbook: This unit is one to keep an eye on. It runs the robust QNX (pronounced Q-nix) operating system that RIM purchased. Overall this units looks very exciting.
* Notion Ink Adam (this is probably the most exciting, but may not be out for quite a while): this one has a display from the company Pixel Qi that can be easily viewed indoors and then can become reflective for almost perfect outdoor viewing. In addition, it has ton of other interesting characteristics such as dual core CPU.

LFF-PDA Vs. E-Book Reader These are incredibly different products for very different uses. For this reason it is not unusual to have both an e-book reader and an LFF-PDA.

E-book reader pros:

* Does not "feel" like an electronic device.
* Electorphoretic display to provide extreme clarity. EF displays use physical material that is "printed" to the glass providing an image that looks like a sheet of paper. As EF displays are reflective, the reader's eyes do not have to adjust when they shift from the surrounding environment to the display, thus e-books readers are more comfortable to view - especially after a long day of work looking at LCD displays.
* Battery life: Ebook readers only use power when changing what is displayed, but don't need power to hold the current image. Most ebook readers can easily last multiple books on only a single charge.
* Outdoor readability: perfectly viewable outdoors.
* Weight; most ebook readers weigh less than a paperback book.


Wireless Networking & Internet

It seems as if most computer users are taking advantage of a wireless Internet connection these days.

Are you using insecure wireless? Do you know if it's secure? Do you think that password protected wireless is secure? Do you know what provides security to a wireless environment? Why would you care if your wireless connection is secure?

We all read about the threats that exist through our use of the Internet, but I would guess that most people think it won't happen to them. That's incorrect. Even the most casual user is highly susceptible to having their private and personal information stolen right off their computer. Your wireless environment plays a critical role in the security of your information.

With the heightened security risks existing today and the more cost effective methods to mitigate these threats, this topic is important.

Many people perform limited tasks on the Internet. But if you have an insecure wireless setup and you purchase anything online using your credit card, if you do any banking online, if you fill in forms with any personal information like your name and address online, if you look for prior classmates through those search web sites, etc. your identity and personal information is highly vulnerable.

Don't make the mistake of believing that a password protects your network. It doesn't. It only takes a few minutes for a person or an automatic software program to get around the wireless password and gain full access to your personal passwords, emails, financial data and anything else you do on the Internet. It is even possible for a wireless aware virus to break into an insecure network and install itself onto your computer.

The way to protect your information and still have the freedom of a wireless environment, is to install a secure wireless system. Just a few months ago, the cost of a secure product may have deterred you from going the secure route. Now you have more choices at various price points that will deliver a secure wireless solution. Companies providing wireless access points have come to understand that everyone needs protection and they have developed products that can now meet the needs of basic residential and small business users at a fraction of the cost of previously available products.

The wireless access point that provides the security you need has a feature called EAP w/CCMP encryption. EAP w/CCMP encryption (except EAP-LEAP) security is special. It uses an authentication system and constantly rotating keys that, for all practical purposes, make it impossible for unauthorized users to gain access to a network.

Identity and personal information theft is a very real threat today. Much of it happens because of insecure wireless networks. A wired network is secure, but if you choose to use a wireless network be sure your wireless access point uses EAP authentication and that it is configured to utilize all the protective features.

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