It’s all in the small print

Quite literally, the small print.

I wanted to try and download voicemails from my phone (call me sentimental, but in years to come, I might be happy to still be able to hear my Mum leaving rambling messages about what insane item she’s found for me on eBay today), which appears to actually be quite a difficult thing to do. Multiple forums recommended various techniques involving cables, computers, headphones and microphones, but that’s all a bit complex for me, and I decided to try one of the free apps that claimed to be able to manage voicemails.

I did the sign-up, email, password etc, but I thought “hey, since this mini-computerabob that I’m carrying everywhere has access to a LOT of information about me and my life…maybe I’d better actually read the terms and conditions that I have to confirm that I agree with?”. After all, there’s plenty of stories about what can happen if you allow apps or services access to your phone without considering it.

Now, my phone screen is approximately 3 inches by 2 inches, so these images are approximately the same size as when they’re viewed on my phone…hands up who thinks anyone could actually read this?

4 pages worth of small print. Very, very small print. As far as I know, I may well be signing up to donate my body to medical science, while still alive.

So…is the chance to save voicemails worth that risk? Do I sign up, and risk being carted off to a medical facility to be used for terrible experiments, when I least expect it?

Or…do I do what everyone has to do these days – just accept it, and hope that it’s not malicious? After all, if I don’t accept it, I can’t use the service, so it’s not really much of a choice, is it?

Why I’d rather have an IT department

So, some companies are moving towards allowing staff to buy their own computers to work on?

That all sounds very nice, and whizzy in concept, but…I don’t think I’d be wanting that option, myself.

I am a librarian – I do information retrieval and research work. As part of that, I’m reasonably well aware of some sorts of techie stuff, and the main Dos and Don’ts. But when things go wrong, I need a Grown Up, in the form of the IT Department. They are trained and experienced with the proper technical stuff, both the hardware and software. They build the systems we work in. They’ve dealt with the regular problems that occur pretty frequently, and they have the skills to work out what’s going on when a new problem crops up. They know what that random code in that pop-up box means – I certainly don’t have a clue, and I definitely don’t have the time to find out about it, teach myself about it, and then attempt to fix it. Chances are, I’d end up breaking something else. I need people who know what they’re doing, and are familiar with the system and the users, not a contracted external IT support service provider.

From that report, the scheme seems to be focussed on laptops – yes, they are indeed lovely and portable. But would that mean I would have to cart it in to the office and back every day Because, if it was “my” computer, I’d be wanting it at home for evenings and weekends. Why hellooooo muggers – look at me and my daily commute with expensive equipment!

And does that mean friends and family wouldn’t be allowed to use the machine, for security reasons? Then how is it “mine”?
Will users get training on keeping the clutter off “their” computer, backing up their personal data etc? Are corporate IT departments meant to become some kind of home IT babysitters?
What about the connection speed? Is a home internet connection fast enough? Reliable enough? Does it have restrictions on data use? Are they likely to go over their limit if they’re not usually a heavy internet user? Will their work pay for their home internet connection if they’re using their computer and internet connection mainly to work from home? What about if the user is unaware, and has an unsecured wireless network – if they’re using it for work, and someone else is using their network for illegal purposes at the same time, who would be responsible? Hell, what if the user downloaded illegal content themselves – whose machine is it then?

What happens if the machine goes kaput?

And when my personally purchased “work” computer gets old and slow, and painful to work on…well, tough. You think I’m going to spend yet more money on just a work computer? I’ll just put up with it, gripe, moan, and watch my speed and productivity drop.

Yay!
Personally I prefer to come in to work, use a pc built and maintained by IT, on systems designed and built by IT, with an IT department a phone call or email away, with people who know me, and what I use my computer for. Then, when I’m finished in the office, I can go home and use my laptop, knowing that there’s a nice separation between work, and not-work. If I need to do anything on my work pc, I can access it remotely. No need for this odd half-way option of a work/personal machine.
But then maybe I’m just a grumpy Luddite?

Google and Firefox – saving the world, one phishing site at a time

So, I logged out of my internet banking service, and got a ‘stop’ icon on the right hand side of my toolbar, and a pop up box telling me that the site was a suspected web forgery. I was given the options of reading more, leaving the page – “Get me out of here!”, “Ignore this warning”, and “This isn’t a web forgery”. Since I’d just logged out of the secure area, I was pretty sure that it wasn’t a phishing site, so decided to use the final option. This allowed me to submit a report anonymously, detailing why I didn’t think it was a phishing page.

So I did.
And this is the report I got back:

Google

Google Safe Browsing for Firefox BETA

Report Sent

Thanks for sending a report to Google. Now that you’ve done your good deed for the day, feel free to:

1. Take a second to rejoice merrily for doing your part in making the web a safer place.

2. Call/email/write to a neighbor/friend/relative and tell them what phishing is and how they can protect themselves.

3. Check out other extensions for Firefox from Google.

4. Spread the love by joining the Spread Firefox community.

I’m going to go for option 1. Feel my merry rejoicing!! 🙂

I think this will probably be a good thing – after all, I would have no idea who to report a phishing site to if I found one, and this way, I should be protected if I stumble across one, with a clear process for getting a wrongly identified site removed from the list.
I also like the fact that it’s not forcing you to leave a site – it allows you the option of continuing with what you were doing, instead of treating you like a child and enforcing its guidance…