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Would you be able do disconnect?

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Whether it’s an increasing phenomenon or we’re just more aware of it, addictive social media and internet behavior is becoming more prevalent. To such an extent that internet addiction treatment camps are commonplace in China. According to psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher Sean Luo of Columbia University “3.7 to 13 percent of U.S. and 10 percent of South Korean Internet users express some symptoms of inappropriate Internet use.”(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-real-a-risk-is-social-media-addiction/)

Last week it was reported that doctors in the USA submitted a man into the US Navy’s substance abuse programme, because he was apparently addicted to Google Glass. He wore the headset for up to 18 hours a day and when it was removed, experienced serious withdrawal symptoms. Even when he was not wearing it, he attempted to tap his right temple, which is where the device is activated. He was diagnosed with internet addiction disorder (IAD).

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1996, shortly after internet became part of our lives, internet addiction was already recognised as a possible psychiatric disorder. Even though it’s not officially listed in the latest DSM manual (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), used by psychiatrists, it has been argued that it should be. Psychiatrists also prefer the term Problematic Internet Use (PUI), avoiding the use of the word addiction. PUI refers to excessive computer use interfering with daily life.

The diagnosis of internet addiction isn’t an easy one as it’s not the medium someone becomes addicted to, but rather the available online content. The internet is merely the platform. It has also been observed that IAD could be a symptom of another underlying disorder, instead of a disorder on it’s own.  Many other related addictions can fall under the general term IAD, for example a gambling addiction, addiction to cyber relationships, online shopping, etc. (more detail on IAD can be found on www.wikipedia.org)

Would you be able to disconnect, even if only for a day? How about trying survive this weekend without Facebook, Twitter or e-mail to start? Imagine how much more time you might have on your hands …

In 2013 Paul Miller, an American Technology Journalist from Springfield, Missouri and senior editor for The Verge decided to disconnect from the hyper-connected world in an attempt to ‘find himself’ and become more productive. He abandoned the internet and disconnected from all Social Media, returning to a life before the net, apps and smartphones. Watch the video below to see what he learnt from the experience.

Other related videos and short films:


[SOURCES: http://www.zdnet.comhttp://www.cbsnews.com, http://www.wikipedia.org]

WikiWand – a new look for Wikipedia

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Using Wikipedia as a quick reference has become the norm in our daily online activities. We’ve grown used to the basic, stripped down interface and for some this is what makes it effective and functional.

However, this interface hasn’t changed since 2004 and Lior Grossman and Ilan Lewin found the dated and sometimes less user-friendly Wikipedia frustrating to use. At times Wikipedia’s interface appears cluttered and difficult to navigate.

To solve the problem, they launched WikiWand, a browser extension in August of 2014.

WikiWand is available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari and installs within seconds. It instantly provides Wikipedia users with a different look for Wikipedia pages.

At first glance the biggest change is the large photos and more visually inclined look. Even thumbnails are more prominent. (see example below)


Typography has been changed to a serif font, which interestingly enough, is usually more difficult to read. WikiWand already receive some criticism regarding this choice of font and might change it to something more readable in future.

Other changes are on a more practical level and include easier browsing and navigation between different sections and pages. A list of contents remain static on the left side of the page, even when you switch sections. No more unnecessary scrolling! A feature which Wikipedia doesn’t have and a valuable addition.

In addition the section you’re reading at the moment is highlighted in the side-menu. Also included is a navigation bar, links to other languages and a “share” button.

One of WikiWand’s biggest advantages is the ability to preview linked articles. In other words, any link contained in the article you’re reading can be previewed by hovering over the link with the mouse. The preview will give you a short summary of the related topic without you having to click on it and switch to another tab.

If WikiWand isn’t your cup of tea, there are many other tools to customise Wikipedia if you should choose to. Read more on www.lifehacker.com if you’re interested.

[SOURCES: www.thenextweb.com, www.lifehacker.com, www.wikpedia.com and www.wikiwand.com]

ADSL – what are the options?

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Asymmetric digital subscriber line – bet you didn’t know that’s what ADSL actually stands for, did you? I also bet you don’t know how many available ADSL data options we have available in South Africa and how their pricing compare?

Mygaming recently made a comparison of internet service providers to make the decision more painless for ADSL subscribers. But before you jump in and start shopping, make sure you know the basics. 

This is what you’ll need: 

1. A Telkom analogue (voice) line at  R157 per month.

2. Telkom ADSL line access. This comes at various speeds, from 2Mbps (R165 per month) to 40 Mbps (R952 per month). (For more detail see the mygaming article.)

3. An ADSL data account from an ISP to access the Internet.  This is the only option you have a wider choice and don’t need Telkom for. (For more detail see the mygaming article.)>

Read mygaming’s comparison here.




Heartbleed wreaks havoc

Friday, May 9th, 2014

If you read about a computer bug in the YOU, it has to be serious. This is exactly what happened with Heartbleed last week.

The now already infamous bug surfaced last month and wreaked havoc and many popular websites. You also might have received an e-mail by now requesting you to change your password for certain websites.

Heartbleed indicates a vulnerability in security in OpenSSL software commonly for web encryption. The vulnerability allows a hacker access to the memory of data servers. According to Netcraft, a company specialising in interne research, 5000 websites might have been infected by it.

Unlike some viruses infiltrating your computer via e-mail, Heartbleed targets a weakness on web servers. This implies that someone using a compromised website, runs the risk of having his username, password or credit card details intercepted. Without too much effort your data can be obtained and also access to your account. 

With Heartbleed hackers can also gain access to the digital keys responsible for encryption on servers and thereby access a company’s confidential, internal documents.

According to Vocativ, the term Heartbleed was chosen by Ossi Herrala, a systems administrator at Codenomicon. The technical name is CVE-2014-0160 and refers to the line of code where the bug is located. Heartbleed refers to an extension in OpenSSL called heartbeat. The protocol is used to keep connections open, even if data is not transmitted between connections.

If you haven’t changed your password for the affected sites, rather play it safe and change it anyway. It still remains good practice to change your passwords on a regular basis. If you want to know which sites have been targeted or what their current status is, you can do so here.

More detailed information on Heartbleed is available at:


BRON: www.cnet.com



Internet Explorer vulnerability disclosed

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Recently security vendor FireEye publicly disclosed a vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer. Government security response teams urged users to rather use an alternative browser until a security fix was released. After Microsoft released the update this week, it”s no longer needed to use an alternative browser.

This high risk vulnerability, if exploited by an attacker, would allow him to gain the same user rights as the current user. The security breach could be achieved by an attacker hosting a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through IE and then convince a user to view the website.

He would then entice the user the attacker enticing a user to view the attacker-controlled content by getting them to click a link in an e-mail or IM message or by opening an attachment in an e-mail.

Updating your Internet Explorer (versions 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11) is critical on Windows clients. The security update addresses the vulnerability by modifying the way IE handles objects in its memory. 

Microsoft has released update KB2964358 and KB2964444 to prevent this vulnerability. (More information on Microsoft’s security update can be found here.)

Campus assets running Microsoft Windows OS have the WSUS configuration installed, automatic updating enabled and users will not need to take any action. The security update will be downloaded and installed automatically.

FireEye noted that attacks rely on Flash and advised users to disable the Flash plugin in IE. Also always ensure that your antivirus software is current and updated regularly to avoid future security attacks.

SOURCE: http://www.zdnet.com en www.mirosoft.com


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