Overwork is no good for us – or our customers

November 12, 2013

Having just published a blog post that I wrote last month, I am reminded that there is more to life than work!

This is also helped by the fact that I got out for a bike ride twice last week, then went away for a long weekend of music and relaxation. On top of that, we are (weather permitting) going to listen to more music tonight.

I was fortunate that I had reached a good point to rest in my major current client work, so it was not so dramatic that I was off email for a couple of days. This means that the time I took to relax and recharge did not impact on my customer service – no problems with customers allowed me to relax even more.

So – how is your work/life balance going? What do you do to ensure that you can keep working well for all your customers?

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Australian Masters Games – Track Racing

November 12, 2013

Perfect Notes spent a wonderful day in Geelong, supporting friends who were racing.
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This is one that never got posted when it was created – back in October!

How to ensure your data cannot be stolen

October 31, 2013

One of the things we do pretty regularly for clients is data recovery.     Mostly data recovery is pretty simple.    In  nearly every case when the drive can be made to spin (and sometimes when it cant) we can recover at least some data.  Usually we recover  too much.   But sometimes the last thing that people want is data recovered.

What about those old computers your  staff take home for the kids.. or you sell of,  or give to charity?

Let me explain a bit about how data is stored.   In nearly every computer the files that you delete are not physically touched.   Essentially the space that the file occupies is marked as able to be written over.   In most systems even before that step it’s moved (the label pointing to the file is changed)   to a recycle bin.        In both cases it’s usually trivial to recover that data at least until its written over.    And modern hard drives are so big  that that’s not a big chance.  So just deleting items  does not work.

A further complication is when the ‘partition table for the drive (which tells how the drive is divided up) or its filesystem  (which tells how the partition is divided)  up is trashed or deleted.    This is rather more difficult but mostly recovery just takes  a bit of time   We have a variety of tools that allow recovery in such circumstances.     So formatting the drive  works only to a point.   People with our expertise usually have no issue recovering data from say accidentally formatted drive.

And then there is physical damage.

How we recover data depends a lot from case to case.  But typically we would  image  every single bit of data on the drive (thus  doing minimal further damage to a dying drive)  and then pull the file fragments off from our image.   We would then type these fragments… throw away all the bits too small to be useful data and sift through the rest.  Mostly in this sort of recovery we would lose filenames..although a couple of tools can guess filenames for some files.  Mostly we can sort by type fairly easily.

If the drive is  reformatted…  we will still get most  of your data back.  If its formatted several times,  yep you guessed it.

There is an accepted standard for deleting.  And there are a bunch of secure tools  that meet it.  Essentially this standard achieves secure deletes by wiping and filling the filespace with random data a minimum of 6 times.   Doing this to old drives takes a lot of time

Encryption systems are also worth using.  If your machines are fast enough to cope with the performance loss.     And if you need the data secure at more points than just disposing of  old machines.
There is one quick and secure and non recoverable method for getting rid of the data on old drives.  Demonstration preformed on old client drives that were to be securely disposed off.

Some pictures of the process – after we’d ensured there was nothing that we needed on the hard drives. Turns out that it’s pretty difficult, with a cheap digital camera, to catch the moment of impact!

David demonstrating secure data disposal.
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Ride to Work Day – the Jersey Story

October 22, 2013

Well, there is a story behind the jersey that I wore on my ride last Wednesday – so here it is:

David Thomas has been doing a fair amount of riding and some racing over the last few years. Some of this racing has been the Blackburn Cycling Club Kew Boulevard ITT. One of the teams that race this series – among a lot of other racing – is Kosdown Performance Cycling. Particularly, we have come to know Shane Miller, who is an absolute ITT (Individual Time Trial) king and is Australian Champion in a number of categories at the moment!
Anyway, Team Kosdown have a new jersey design for this season, meaning that their team members have old-style jerseys that they will no longer use for racing. So, they decided to pass them on to other riders – the only condition being that you wear them, ride or race, take a photo (or three) and post them on the Kosdown Facebook page.
Originally, it was intended that David would wear the jersey. But it turns out that the weights he has been lifting recently mean that it doesn’t fit him – so I tried it on, and given that it has a full zip and some stretch, it fits me. So now you know the history of the jersey and photo in the last post.

Ride to Work Day

October 18, 2013

Last Wednesday, 16/10/13, was Ride to Work Day again.

With a home office, it seemed that we were unlikely to participate, but we decided that riding to a breakfast and back home would count – so that’s what we did! Not the world’s longest commute, from Blackburn North into Box Hill, but that wasn’t the point. It was about getting out there, riding again, chatting to other cyclists – and getting a free breakfast as a bonus.

Being an IT business, our footprint on the world is never going to be minimal. But we do what we can. So, where it acceptable to our customers, we try to do site visits by bicycle. This has the combined benefit of costing less, reducing our impact on the environment, and giving a great excuse to train as well!

Did you get out and ride on Wednesday? Or any other day this week?

Here’s a pic of me after the ride – proof that I got out there (despite the wind).

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Kathy

And again, the spam emails keep on coming…

October 31, 2011

So, following up on this topic, here are some of the recent spam/phishing emails received by Perfect Notes. Remember, never access your internet bank via an email link, never give anyone an email with all your personal, identifying details (allowing identity theft), and no – it’s really unlikely that you actually won the British Lottery – particularly if you never bought a ticket…

Please note – the images below go outside the normal edges of the blog, so that you can read them easily.  Also note that they are images.  Done at about the minimum resolution that makes them reasonably readable to keep the download size small.  You cannot catch anything or click on anything bad in this post.  It would be the height of bad manners for us to allow that.

    1. The British Lottery (identity theft) – asking for ALL your identifying details:
      1. Email 1:

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      1. Email 2: (after you don’t respond and they send you enough! of the initial version)

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      1. Email 3: (the next step up!)

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    1. Account Verification (phishing – which is pretending to be someone else to get your details)
      1. Commonwealth Bank (I do not have any accounts with them):

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      1. And here is the source (the background code, that tells the internet where to actually send you) – with the part underlined that shows it is not really from the Commonwealth Bank:

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      1. Westpac Bank:

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      1. And here is the source, showing that this one does not come from Westpac either

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      1. And for some variety – a similar one from Optus:

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    1. And these ones just sound suspicious – so do not click the links:

Some of us (like Perfect Notes) have and use webmail – but that does not make these emails any more reasonable:

    1. Upgrade your webmail… or not!:

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    1. And another version of this:

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    1. And one that threatens deactivation if you do not click:

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    1. And the source which shows that it is suspicious:

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    1. And this one is just a standard spam email – note that ‘they’ have been browsing many sites… but the general outline is the same

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So… a sample of the latest scams/spams making the rounds… Please do not let them trick you!
If you have any concerns, send them through to us – we can check them out for you.

Ride to work day.

October 13, 2011

So I did.
Client in town… with serious virus issue. So I went in to spend a day fighting it. Some of these new viri are really genuinely nasty. And this machine had a few.

So I rode to work. Went via the MRR training ride, the Hawthorn velodrome RTW brecky put on by Booroondara council…which was pretty good, and where I ran into my friend Wendy, and then into Fed Square in Melbourne. Where I got my picture taken. And then onto the client.

This machine had  a brand new rootkit virus,   and some malware.  And a couple of other trojans.  And a web hijacker dumping IE on a page full of trojans.  The rootkit was so new it was unremovable by Sophos.  One of the trojans actively targeted the antivirus.   All  of  the antivirus.   Scarey and nasty.    But this week the USAF announced it had issues with viri on its Predator armed drone aircraft.   You can read this story here.

Our mail issues sorted

October 11, 2011

The new site is up..  At  PerfectNotes.com.au. Hits are up.  All good.

We had an interesting mail issue.   We moved the site to the ABOC server and ran it on Plone but for various reasons left the mail on the Dreamhost box that Vidman Design uses.  Getting the DNS to work that way turned out to be tricky, Dreamhost is a big outfit with a bunch of mail servers all talking to each other.  And we had broken email or at least dodgy email for a day while we figured it out.

Some of the redirects from the old site seem not to be doing their job.  It looks like the  SEO tool in Plone is just not doing the job.  We are working on that.    It’s unlikely its the tool… so something is  wrong.  Next job on the list.

I am going to put some  links somewhere to some of our clients.  Hopefully get the whole Google thing working better for them and for us.  Sadly for a lot of our more prestigious clients we have confidentiality agreements and so it’s not happening for them.   But its going to have a nice synergy for a few.. so that will be a nice addition for the site.

We will also link to some of the businesses involved in our business network in Bendigo.   For the same sort of reasons.  Details are yet to be worked out but that will be starting to happen this week.

None of this will happen without discussion with all involved.  We take privacy seriously at Perfect Notes.

Been reading a lot of Schneier on Security  Its alarming and fascinating stuff.      The current post..   Us armed drone aircraft have a virus.    scary hey?  Here is a brief comment from the always relevant Dilbert on security.  Dilbert.com

 

Our new website is up

October 6, 2011

perfectnotes.com.au has a new website. Its been planned for a long time.. mostly built for most of that time. Has of course led to the other (until yesterday the visible ) website being shamefully neglected. But now its here.

And its a Plone site.  As we are doing more and more development work in Plone  (mostly hosted on ABOC Plone  servers)  we figured we should put our money where our mouths are and run it ourselves.  You will notice that its a little bit generic Plone.   That just seemed like a good idea for a while.   We are Plone  enthusiasts and happy to spread the word about this wonderful CMS.    With Subskins and other software and a little bit of CSS development we can make it look like anything we want but for the moment this will do us fine.     

In case you are wondering we also develop in WordPress , Drupal and HTML CSS….and all that non Content Management Stuff.  We are hanging out to be asked to do something in Joomla    All these systems have their strengths and weaknesses so all have a role and it depends very much on what you need as to what is suitable.

 We have test environments for all of these so we can pretty quickly find out if something is actually doable.   Of course as with all websites.. up and running is easy..  right is rather more difficult.  

Make your voice heard

September 28, 2011

Well, they say learning new things is good – I never even knew there was an Australian Women’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry – but there is! And they are running a poll where they would like to hear from women in business. So this is our chance to participate – make our voices heard. At least now someone is asking what we do – and how we think things might need to change.

I will be filling out my poll responses this afternoon.

Click here to be part of this! (The link is in the top banner on this page).

Let me know what you think – are they asking reasonable questions? Is it worthwhile taking part?