Summary: Chromebooks are an important enrichment device for schools these days. Since their inception Chromebooks have been mystery to some, laughed at by others or embraced by early adopters. However, they will be the next big thing for the enterprise business market, and already are making big inroads into the educational system.
Here is why:
- Low Cost, typically list for $249 or $350. Almost any comparable Windows or iOS-based laptops will cost significantly more.
- $935 - The average savings in per-device cost of ownership for Chromebook adopters over three years (compared with alternative devices) Source: See whitepaper below.
- Labor Savings, Chromebooks require 69 percent less labor to deploy and 92 percent less labor to support. Source: See whitepaper below.
- A Chromebook deployed in school starts at $13.30 monthly.
- Ubiquitous Web Access, everyone is using Chrome as a browser these days
- Continual Improvement, ChromeOS is continuously updated
- Public Acceptance, there ar 6600 resellers of Chrome devices now
- Zero Configuration, none. Type your Google username, bam done.
- No Storage… equals no liability, lost or stolen buy another one put in user name and password and back come settings.
- No installed software to upgrade.
- Backend Tech support from Google completely outsourced IT department to boot
- Cloud Storage, all your documents and settings are remotely saved.
- Long Battery life, I have seen 6-10 hours with mine on the lowest settings.
- The display is VERY bright and the sound is VERY good.
- Packaged apps, will allow you to run full applications
- Roll apps, are awesome. I can run LibreOffice from my Chromebook and sync with my Dropbox.
- No Malware or Viruses.
- It boots in under 10 seconds.
Now, Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung are all now selling Chromebooks. In addition, Chromebooks that are now sold in 6,600 retails stores including Best Buy and Wal-Marts. Chromebook is now in the business retail channel now from Staples, Fry’s Electronics, Office Depot, OfficeMax, and TigerDirect.
To make Chromebooks more attractive to enterprises, Google has recently inked deals with Citrix and VMware to bring business applications to Chromebooks.
Early adopters of the Chromebook offer these tips for a successful rollout:
Update Wi-Fi access. ”Have sufficient bandwidth to keep your students from getting frustrated,” says Shane Millin, technology director for Marshall Public Schools in Wisconsin. “When kids get frustrated, things start breaking.”
Commit to Google Apps for Education. ”Maximizing your investment requires a commitment to the cloud,” says David Fringer, director of information systems for Iowa’s Council Bluffs Community School District. “If your district isn’t ready, consider selecting a different computing device.”
Train teachers up front. “We recommend at least 24 hours of professional development,” says Dr. Claudia Edwards, deputy superintendent for academics for the Fairfield County School District in Winnsboro, S.C. “We called our first group of teacher experts ‘Chromies,’ and they serve as the go-to resource in their buildings.”
Many years late, Microsoft is celebrating the news that Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) use in the US has officially dropped below one per cent of internet visits. In March, Microsoft assembled a team to push for the destruction of IE6, and have succeeded in reducing the market footprint of the browser. Currently 7.7 per cent of worldwide internet site visits use IE6, according to Microsoft, but the figure is now 0.9 per cent in the US.
So Redmond threw a party to celebrate. (more…)
As Android devices become the status quo and are on the rise, it’s time to consider how best to put your smartphones and tablet PCs to work. Here is a selection of Android apps that I find to be helpful. My favorites are Google Reader & Tasks, as they work in conjunction with Google’s Chrome browser.
With hundreds of thousands of apps, Android Market has the right ones for you. When you download apps, they’re delivered directly to your device—instantly. You can also find your next first-rate read, a hot new album, or a flick from a catalog that includes everything from movie blockbusters and best selling e-books to more than 8 million songs.
Adobe has issued a critical software update for its Flash Player software that fixes at least a dozen security vulnerabilities in the widely-used program. Updates are available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris and Android versions of Flash and Adobe Air.
The update fixes flaws present in Flash Player versions 220.127.116.11 and earlier for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris systems, and in Flash18.104.22.168 and earlier for Android. The vulnerabilities are rated critical, meaning they could give hacked or malicious Web sites an easy way to install software on your machine.
Adobe’s advisory says users of Flash version 22.214.171.124 and earlier should update to v. 126.96.36.199; those using Flash v. 188.8.131.52 and earlier versions for Android should update to Flash Player 184.108.40.206. Users of AIR 3.0 for Windows, Macintosh, and Android should update to AIR v. 220.127.116.1180. The company says it is not aware of any active attacks against these flaws at this time.
To find out if you have Flash and which version may be installed, visit the About Flash page. Windows users who browse the Web with Internet Explorer and another browser may need to apply the Flash update twice, once using IE and again with the other browser (Google Chrome users should already have the latest version of Flash). Again, check the About Flash page with each browser you use to see whether you need to apply this update. To avoid using Adobe’s Download Manager, which tends to add little “extras” if you’re not careful, IE users can grab the latest update directly from these links; 32-bit IE installer, and 64-bit IE installer. Firefox and Opera users can grab the 32-bit installer here and the 64-bit version here. If you don’t know which one you need, you let Adobe’s site choose for you (although the download manager may try to foist other software unless you uncheck pre-checked options).
The installer for the latest Adobe Air version is available from this link.
Some Flash components also are bundled with Adobe Reader, so I asked Adobe whether current versions of Reader also were exposed to these vulnerabilities. Adobe spokeswoman Wiebke Lips confirmed that some of the issues fixed in today’s Flash Player update do impact the Authplay.dll component that ships with Adobe Reader and Acrobat X (10.x) and 9.x for Windows and Mac. Lips said Adobe feels comfortable that its sandboxing technology built into the latest versions of Reader will protect users until January, when the company expects to issue the next quarterly update for Reader.
“These issues will be resolved in the next quarterly security update for Adobe Reader and Acrobat, currently scheduled for January 10, 2012,” Lips wrote. “Note that the Authplay.dll component is part of the ‘sandbox’ for users of Adobe Reader X (Protected Mode) and Acrobat X (Protected View), which would protect against potential exploits.”
What many users don’t realize, however, is that the Web browser is the most important security defense our computers have — and yet 60 percent of the browsers accessing the Internet today are outdated. An outdated browser ends up impacting everyone’s security, privacy and performance.
I wrote about Microsoft warning us *rolls-eyes* last week, in that we were not using a “secure” browser like Internet Explorer” GASP!..the horror of us ignorant consumers!
To help users understand the importance of the browser you use, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), a Web-industry trade group based in Bellevue, Wash., that promotes security and trust in online marketing and commerce, recently unveiled the “Why Your Browser Matters” initiative.
“The ‘Why Your Browser Matters’ initiative provides users overall recommendations to upgrade their out-of-date and legacy browsers for a more safe, more private and more compelling online experience,” said Craig Spiezle, executive director of OTA. “The Initiative is all about communicating with computer users to make them realize that an updated Web browser is one of the most important security steps you can take. It’s as important as running anti-virus/anti-malware software.”
Spiezle is quick to point out that while there is no magic bullet when it comes to computer security, the browser is on the front line of defense because it is used so frequently.
“Modern browsers detect malicious websites and phishing URLs, analyze downloads and support a broad suite of privacy features,” Spiezle said. “It’s critical to have these at your disposal when it comes to protecting yourself online, as well as protecting your machine in general.”
Modern browsers try to provide security for users in three different ways, explained Roger Thompson, chief emerging threats researcher for ICSA Labs in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
For example, said Thompson, all modern browsers have “blacklists” of known malware sites and try to prevent users from visiting them. This method works well if the malicious sites are well-known, but online criminals try to move websites around by changing domain names and IP addresses faster than security researchers can update the blacklists — so sometimes this doesn’t work.
Some browsers, such as Google Chrome, also run applets and executable code in a “sandbox,” meaning that the code and applets can’t affect other parts of the browser or the operating system. Again, this doesn’t always work.
And all modern browsers have a somewhat regular patch cycle, in which developers fix vulnerabilities to prevent direct attacks.
A good illustration of how a browser can act as the first line of defense is with regard to shortened URLs, or Web addresses.
URL-shortening services such as bit.ly, tinyurl.com or is.gd are handy to use when including links in instant messages, text messages or Twitter posts. Unfortunately, URL shorteners also mask the actual URLs they lead to, and give no warning that links might be drive-by downloads or exploits waiting for unsuspecting victims.
Fortunately, some enterprising software developers have created a way to find out where you’re going.
“There are plug-ins available for Chrome and Firefox that will automatically expand short URLs to their actual address when viewing pages containing such links,” said Harry Sverdlove, chief technology officer of Bit9, a Web security company in Waltham, Mass. “These are useful when using Facebook or Twitter from a browser, common places where malicious links are hiding in short URLs.”
How to protect yourself
As Thompson pointed out, browser vendors are good about providing updates and patches that improve security by fixing vulnerabilities that bad guys exploit. But after that, it’s up to the user himself to take action by actually downloading the updates, or upgrading the browser to the latest version.
You can check the version number of your browser by going to the Help button on your browser’s menu and checking the “About” section. (On a Mac, click the name of the application next to the apple icon in the upper left of the screen.) Often, the “about” pop-up window will prompt you to check where there might be updates available.
For those who use Internet Explorer, Spiezle has this important piece of advice: ”If it says Internet Explorer 6 … run, do not walk to the nearest free download of Internet Explorer 9.”
(If you’re still running Windows XP, update to Internet Explorer 8, the latest version you can install.) Which is the highest version you can run on Windows XP, unless someone figures out a hack for it, which they will. I rather you run Google Chrome.
Internet Explorer 6 has been the target of a number of malicious attacks over the past decade; newer versions of Internet Explorer are much more secure.
Does it matter which browser you use? Spiezle and Thompson disagree on that question.
While Thompson said that today’s browser upgrades have leveled the playing field when it comes to security, Spiezle pointed out that there still are differences among them, and each user has to assess which is best for his own uses.
“You need to look at not only the security features, but also privacy features, as well as support for the latest technologies,” Spiezle said.
Here is the link for a good start, https://otalliance.org/browser/ At first I was thinking that this was another Internet Explorer centered website, but at least they mention the alternatives.
It’s hard to believe it’s been only three years since the Google Chrome browser debuted. According to the latest market share statistics from usage-tracking firm Net Applications, Chrome now has 15.51 percent of the desktop browser market–a meteoric rise for an app that entered a crowded market dominated by neighborhood bully Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Chrome is third among desktop browsers, behind number one IE (over 55 percent of the market), and Mozilla Firefox (nearly 23 percent).
What’s the secret to Chrome’s success? “Speed, simplicity and security,” writes Google software engineers Ben Goodger and Darin Fisher in a Thursday post on the Google Data blog. Competing browsers, of course, are making strides in the Three S’s as well. But Chrome’s virtues are proving powerful enough to lure users away from IE and Firefox.
That’s the secret to Chrome’s success? “Speed, simplicity and security,” writes Google software engineers Ben Goodger and Darin Fisher in a Thursday post on the Google Data blog. Competing browsers, of course, are making strides in the Three S’s as well. But Chrome’s virtues are proving powerful enough to lure users away from IE and Firefox.
Is the Web better with Chrome? Satisfied users of other browsers would certainly disagree, but I think so. I switched to Chrome from IE last year and haven’t looked back.
I only hope that Google’s breakneck update schedule doesn’t pile on too many new features that turn Chrome sluggish. The browser’s peppy performance is its most appealing trait.
I totally dumped Firefox when for a few reasons: 1. Foxmarks Sync was ungainly slow. 2. Speedial was broken. 3. Sage RSS was broken and not being developed.
If your not using Google Chrome now, please try it for a week and see how you like it.
Laughable at best, Microsoft has unveiled a website aimed at raising awareness of browser security by comparing the ability of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome to withstand attacks from malware, phishing, and other types of threats.
The website doesn’t do any security checks at all, it just reads the ‘User Agent’ data from your browser, so if you use Firefox 7.0.1 masquerading as Internet Explorer 9 gets 4 out of 4. Microsoft is leading people into a sense of false security. The site does no “testing”, it just matches your browser to whatever it has in its lookup table.
Care to take a guess what they say about IE 9? This is pure Microsoft marketing at it’s best. EPIC FAIL, false security is no security at all. Really, you would have to be an idiot to fall for this…Can you say, FALSE ADVERTISING?
Your Browser Matters gives the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome a paltry 2 and 2.5 points respectively out of a possible score of 4. Visit the site using the IE 9, however, and the browser gets a perfect score. IE 7 gets only 1 point, and IE 6 receives no points at all.
The page is designed to educate users about the importance of choosing an up-to-date browser that offers industry-standard features. The ability to automatically warn users when they’re about to download a malicious file, to contain web content in a security sandbox that has no access to sensitive parts of the computer’s operating system, and to automatically install updates are just three of the criteria.
The site dings Firefox for a variety of omissions, including its inability to restrict an extension or a plug-in on a per-site basis, its failure to use Windows Protected Mode or a similar mechanism such to prevent the browser from modifying parts of the system it doesn’t have access to, and its lack of a built-in feature to filter out malicious XSS, or cross-site scripting, code. Among other things, Chrome lost points for not using Windows features that protect against structured exception-handling overwrite attacks.
Readers still stuck in the rut of critiquing Microsoft security based on products released a decade ago are likely to be unimpressed. The reality is that over the past few years, Redmond has endowed Windows and IE with measures such as ASLR, or address space layout randomization, and DEP, or data execution prevention, that significantly reduce the damage attackers can do when they exploit buffer overflows and other bugs that are inevitable in any large base of code. Apple didn’t pull ahead of Microsoft on this score until earlier this year with the release of its Mac OS X Lion.
It didn’t take long for Mozilla developers to take issue with the critique.
“Microsoft’s site is more notable for the things it fails to include: security technologies like HSTS, privacy tools like Do Not Track, and vendor response time when vulnerabilities are discovered,” Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla’s director of Firefox engineering, said in a statement. He said: “Mozilla is fiercely proud of our long track record of leadership on security.
The company called out a pair of developer-oriented additions to Chrome 14 and noted new support for Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, including full-screen mode and vanishing scrollbars.
Google last upgraded Chrome’s stable build in early August. Google produces an update about every six weeks, a practice that rival Mozilla also adopted with the debut of Firefox 5 last June.
Fifteen of the 32 vulnerabilities were rated “high,” the second-most-serious ranking in Google’s four-step scoring system, while 10 were pegged “medium” and the remaining seven were marked “low.”
None of the flaws were ranked “critical,” the category usually reserved for bugs that may allow an attacker to escape Chrome’s anti-exploit sandbox. Google has patched several critical bugs this year, the last time in April.
Six of the vulnerabilities rated high were identified as “use-after-free” bugs, a type of memory management flaw that can be exploited to inject attack code, while seven of the bugs ranked medium were “out-of-bounds” flaws, including a pair linked to foreign language character sets used in Cambodia and Tibet.
Google paid $14,337 in bounties to nine researchers, including $3,500 to “miaubiz” and $2,337 to Sergey Glazunov, another regular bug finder.
The company’s security team also credited others, including researchers who work for Microsoft and Apple, for “working with us in the development cycle and preventing bugs from ever reaching the stable channel.” Some of those researchers were also awarded bounties, but Google did not spell out the amounts of those awards.
As per its practice, Google barred access to the Chrome bug-tracking database for the 32 vulnerabilities to prevent outsiders from obtaining details on the flaws. The company only opens the database after users have had time to update the browser.
Google also added a pair of developer-only features to Chrome 14, including support for the Web Audio API (application programming interface) and for “native client,” an open-source technology that runs software written in C and C++ within Chrome’s security sandbox.
The Mac version of Chrome 14 also supports Lion’s new approach to scrollbars, which appear only when a user is actively scrolling through the browser window. Chrome 14 also now runs in Lion’s full-screen mode, triggered via the icon in the upper right of the browser or by pressing Ctrl-Command-F.
Chrome 14 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Google’s Web site. Users already running the browser will be updated automatically.
Adobe is a vendor that often plays catch-up with security exploits; issuing emergency patches issued to fix zero-day vulnerabilities. But Adobe, like Microsoft, also has a regular Patch Tuesday update cycle. This regularly scheduled update is a way to give users and enterprises a predictable and stable timetable for Adobe updates.
For August’s Patch Tuesday, Adobe has issued update advisories covering to fix a slew of critical security flaws in its products, including Flash, Shockwave Player and Adobe AIR.
The Flash update corrects at least 13 critical vulnerabilities present in versions 10.3.181.36 and earlier for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris machines (the bugs exist in Flashversions 10.3.185.25 and earlier for Android devices). Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris users should upgrade to version 10.3.183.5, and Android users should update to v. 10.3.186.2. According to Adobe, they are not aware of any exploits “in the wild” for the issues addressed in the update. Digging into the vulnerabilities, the vast majority are for memory and five buffer overflows, four memory corruption and three integer overflow issues. There is also a single cross-site information disclosure issue that is fixed that could have potentially led to arbitrary code execution.
To find out which version of Flash you have, visit this page. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer will need to apply the Flash update twice, once using IE and again with the other browser (Google Chromeusers should already have the latest version of Flash). To avoid using Adobe’s annoying Download Manager, IE users can grab the latest update directly from this link; the direct link for non-IE browsers is here.
Windows users can furthermore use the Flash Player Settings Manager that is part of the Windows Control Panel to check for updates. Here it is furthermore possible to check the Flash Player version that is installed on the system. The path is Control Panel > Flash Player (32-bit) > Advanced. Users with a 64-bit version of Flash Player installed need to change the 32-bit to 64-bit in the path.
The same flaws exist in Adobe AIR for Windows, Mac and Android. Using an application that requires Adobe AIR (Tweetdeck or Pandora, for example) should prompt you to update to the latest version, AIR 2.7.1. If you don’t see a prompt to update the program, the latest version of AIR is available here.
Adobe also shipped an update to its Shockwave Player that fixes at least seven critical vulnerabilities in the media player program. Adobe is urging users of Adobe Shockwave Player 18.104.22.1686 and earlier update to Adobe Shockwave Player 22.214.171.1249.
I should note that you may not have or want Shockwave installed. I haven’t had it on my Firefox installation for some time now and don’t seem to have missed it. I’m sure it has its uses, but to me Shockwave is just another Adobe program that requires constant care and feeding. What’s more, it demands two separate installation procedures for IE and non-IE browsers.
To test whether you have Shockwave installed, visit this page; if you see an animation, it’s time to update. If you see a prompt to install Shockwave, there is no need to install it. Mozilla Firefox users without Shockwave Player installed may still see “Shockwave Flash” listed in the “Plugins” directory of the browser; this merely indicates that the user has Adobe’s Flash Player installed.
If you are like me, you hate commercials and the time wasted viewing them, 15 mins per 1-hour of show is excessive in my opinion. Now to be honest, I do not spend a copious amount of time drooling at the television, besides I rather watch material on YouTube. Oh, but you say they, they have commercials now as well!
If you have been to the movies theaters in the past few years, then you know they now run adverts in the beginning of the film. Its getting to be obnoxious! That’s one of the reasons I rather download movies now and watch on my computer.
Anyways, it has always bothered me, when I am forced to view click-thru adverts or read adverts in my browser. Yes I know, it generates revenue, but it is my computer and my internet and I can dictate what I want to look at. Yay, for the free-market!
Why Block Ads?
…Web surfers weary of enduring the “pulsating, candy-colored wave of advertising that has spread across the Internet,” increasingly are turning to ad-blocking to speed up their download times. “They are a symbol of people saying, ‘I’m not going to take it anymore,’” says Jakob Nielsen, co-founder of the Nielsen-Norman Group. … Many online advertisers dismiss the trend toward ad-blocking, noting that when faster connections are available, consumers will not be so annoyed about being forced to download cumbersome advertisement files.
Unfortunately, higher internet access speeds make the problem worse, not better. As access speeds grow, the size and complexity of ads grows with it. Current ads contain animation or executable material and may even be complete programs that contain crude games. The bloat in these ads keeps the download times for pages at the ragged edge of tolerability even as access speeds increase dramatically. At the same time, the textual content that the ads supposedly support stays roughly the same, so the percentage of bandwidth used for ads climbs sharply and will approach 99% in the not-too-distant future. Indeed, as the speed of your internet access goes up, ad blocking becomes increasingly more beneficial, not less.
SURFER BEWARE: ADVERTISER’S ON YOUR TRAIL
Internet advertising server DoubleClick is tracking the online activity of users, recording their names, purchases, and addresses, reports USA Today. DoubleClick is combining the data it accumulates on Web user activity with a direct marketing database of 90 million households maintained by Abacus Direct, which DoubleClick acquired last year. Privacy International’s David Banisar says the move threatens online anonymity, while consumer advocates say they will complain to the FCC. Junkbusters’ Jason Catlett says, “For four years [DoubleClick] has said [the services] don’t identify you personally, and now they’re admitting they are going to identify you.” DoubleClick says the practice allows ads to target users better, improving the online experience, and the company also points out that users can opt to not have their use tracked. Banisar claims that opt out language is usually buried in a site’s privacy statement.
If you are uncomfortable with DoubleClick knowing who you are, where you live, your credit card number, what you watch on the web and what you buy, you need to opt out immediately. To further punish them (since they have been doing this surreptitiously for some time) you should block their ads to reduce their revenue.
Surfing Speed Increase: Making this configuration change will approximately double your surfing speed on many commercial sites. If you use Yahoo heavily, you will approximately triple your surfing speed. Surprisingly, this turns out to be quite noticable even if you are on a DSL or faster connection.
How it works
|It’s possible to set up a name server as authoritative for any domain you choose, allowing you to specify the DNS records for that domain. You can also configure most computers to be sort of mini-nameservers for themselves, so that they check their own DNS records before asking a nameserver. Either way, you get to say what hostname points to what IP address. If you haven’t guessed already, the way you block ads it to provide bogus information about the domains we don’t want to see – ie, all those servers out there that dedicate their existence to spewing out banner ads.
The hosts file
Probably the most common way people block ads like this is with something called the “hosts file”. The hosts file is a simple list of hostnames and their corresponding IP addresses, which your computer looks at every time you try and contact a previously unknown hostname. If it finds an entry for the computer you’re trying to reach, it sets the IP address for that computer to be whatever’s in the hosts file.
127.0.0.1 is a special IP address which, to a computer, always means that computer. Any time a machine sends a network request to 127.0.0.1, it is talking to itself. This is very useful when it comes to blocking ads, because all we have to do is specify the IP address of any ad server to be 127.0.0.1. And to do that, all we have to do is edit the hosts file. What will happen then is something like this:
The format of the hosts file is very simple – IP address, whitespace, then a list of hostnames (except for older Macs; please see above). However, you don’t need to know anything about the format if you don’t want to as you can just view the list hosts file.
Of course, that’s not the only way to use the list, but it’s probably the most simple for most people.