A recent trip to Hawaii shows that there is still plenty of room for computing innovation — and better help on the Web.
Plus: A reminder that email is never a good medium for venting thoughts best kept to oneself.
A new WS column on general computing
As we hope most Windows Secrets subscribers now know, our newsletter recently became part of Penton, a rapidly growing media company that addresses a wide range of markets such as technology, agriculture, transportation, and more. This change will undoubtedly be a good thing for Windows Secrets. The design and format haven’t changed in many years, and an upgrade is overdue.
With this acquisition, there will be some changes in the newsletter, designed to make our information even more useful and timely. One of those changes will be a regular column by yours truly, the editor of Windows Secrets. There will be no set theme, topic, agenda, or particular rant for the column — which, for want of an acutely clever label, I simply call Field Notes.
The title reflects over 30 years of using and covering technology every day. That experience is not limited to Windows; I have deep appreciation and interest in all technology. (For example, I hope to find some time to explore drone photography.) Still, I’ll try to keep the topics relevant and interesting to most PC users.
I invite your feedback in the Windows Secrets Lounge on topics to consider and useful information you’d like to see in the column — and useful changes you’d like to see in the newsletter. Let’s keep it constructive. (Use the link at the bottom of the column.) To kick things off, here are two recent observations.
Wanted: A good solution for uploading images
As you know, the editors of Windows Secrets took a week off at the end of April. My time off was spent visiting my son in Hawaii. (What Seattleite could resist an excuse to travel to somewhere warm and sunny?)
To a dedicated photographer, the islands offer endless opportunities to create images. But in my case, it also presented a dilemma — how to download and safely store potentially hundreds of bulky RAW photos. It was, of course, a problem I didn’t thoroughly consider until I was on my way to Oahu.
To travel as light as possible, I’d left my notebook computer at home and taken my iPad Air. My plan seemed simple and obvious: download images to the iPad and upload them to Dropbox. That procedure is relatively simple — if you have lots of free space on the iPad, which I didn’t. After some research over a beer or two, the only solution seemed to be to download the day’s images to the tablet, let Dropbox sync them to the cloud, and then delete them from the iPad. But it’s a cumbersome process on a simple touchscreen device.
Eventually, I gave up and simply kept the hundreds of photos on my memory cards and hoped the shots were not overwritten nor the small SD Cards lost.
I assume there is a solution out there. (Looking for help on the Internet demonstrated what we already know: for the most part, the Web is light-years wide and an inch deep.) If you know of one, post it in the Lounge. If there isn’t one, here’s a great opportunity for a clever programmer. Write an app that lets digital-camera users directly download images from camera to cloud, using a tablet as a bridge.
What we put down in email can bite us
TV shows rarely get technology right, but a recent episode of The Good Wife scripted a humorous reminder of a basic computing rule: treat everything you put in email as information that might end up on the front page of the New York Times.
In the episode, a hacker cracks the law firm’s email servers and publicly posts hundreds of messages online, airing much of the firm’s dirty laundry — primarily snide remarks associates and partners have made about each other. You can easily imagine the results.
In the real world, the key lessons are that email is never completely secure from hacks: deleting a message is not like burning a letter (it might live on, inside other servers), and it can easily go astray. You might recall reports of some unfortunate employee who wrote a snarky response intended for a fellow worker but who stupidly hit the reply-to-all button.
I followed another security rule while I was out on the islands: if you’re leaving an empty house at home, resist the temptation to post travel photos on Facebook. As with ill-considered email, careless social-media sharing can bring you grief.
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