Wednesday, 23 April 2014

How-to: Survive Heartbleed [Guest Post]

Bleeding Hearts: Street Art on Maybachufer – Artist Unknown
For those who have never seen the term Heartbleed before, it is not the latest medical scare to follow SARS, Ebola and Bird-flu. In fact, its nothing medical at all. For those with an eye on the technology news, you may have seen all kinds of mis-reporting and scare stories.

So what is Heartbleed and what can you do to survive it?

First of all, the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability is a computer security crack - and NOT a virus.

Heartbleed is a vulnerability in web-servers running the authentication software OpenSSL. This is the non-proprietary version of Secure Sockets Layer, the open source implementation of SSL and TLS, the protocols used for secure connections - look for web addresses beginning https://, not http://.

Monday, 21 April 2014

How-to: Protect PDF Content

At work, we have been discussing protection of Intellectual Property this week... How to keep valuable content within a small network of supposedly 'trusted' users. Much of it is in publications we sell as PDF's.

The utility value of PDF's is that you can read them anywhere on anything; but while there are measures you can take to protect content, anyone determined enough will find a way to grab and re-distribute that content.  There is no such thing as totally protected content... So how much effort do you put in and how difficult can you make it for the determined 'PDF magpie'?

If you want to go through the issues with PDF's, read on, but the short answer is passworded PDF's are only partly secure and inconvenient, restricted PDF's can be circumvented and there's nothing you can do about someone screen-shotting the pages and saving the graphics.

So what are the vulnerabilities?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: Lightbeam Addon for Mozilla Firefox

Lightbeam: See who’s tracking you online

"Lightbeam is a Firefox add-on that uses interactive visualizations to show you the first and third party sites you interact with on the Web. As you browse, Lightbeam reveals the full depth of the Web today, including parts that are not transparent to the average user."

Mozilla’s free Lightbeam addon for the Firefox broswer shows who's tracking your online movements.

On the one hand, Mozilla says the browser add-on will be 'a step forward in the fight for greater openness across the internet'; on the other, Mozilla is itself tracking you with low level information, under a disturbingly broad Terms of Service.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Review: Guess Who's Back? Ubuntu 14.04

It seems like a good day to revisit the hallowed halls of Ubuntu; the latest Long Term Support (LTS) release of Canonical's still-popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu 14.04, "Trusty Tahr" is released today, April 17.

And having played with the sole beta build of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, it turns out that Trusty (a Tahr being an African goat) is a much stronger release than recent lacklustre versions.

14.04 is anything but the bland, risk-averse LTS release. But search in the Unity Dash is still full of c**p.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

News: XP eXPires [Guest Post]

Windows XP desktop
While Microsoft has extended the end-of-life deadline Windows XP several times under consumer pressure, not least from Enterprise customers, we have reached that line in the sand. The party’s over.

Officially, Windows XP is now dead, but it’s not gone. Choose your stats carefuly; conservatively, between 20 and 27% of computers connected to the Internet still run Windows XP. Yet as of April 8th, we’re at the”end of support” – so what will happen to all those Windows XP systems now?

It will continue to run and activate, using the same activation process that checks with Microsoft to ensure you’re using “genuine” software and not a pirated version of Windows.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Also Live: Reason Network 2014

While we're celebrating successes, on Monday, the relaunched Reason Network also went live.

I can take a little credit for this one: a humble Wordpress site that I inherited from my illustrious predecessor, in need of a serious functional and cosmetic makeover.

Jointly run by Research in Practice and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), reason is the extension of the two organisations for research, evaluation and analysis support in children's services and education.

Monday, 7 April 2014

It's Live: Research in Practice Take a Bow

I can only take a tiny part of the credit here, but on Friday the main web-site of Research in Practice ( went live: new platform, new livery, new start.

Built for us by Exeter-based design agency AB, the smart new pages have been lovingly crafted on the Modx plaform.

Set up in 1996 as part of the Dartington Hall Trust, the mission of Research in Practice has been to champion evidence-informed practice in children’s services.