Banging your head on the desk

On starting up, Windows 10 says it is doing an update.  Without notice, but it seems unavoidable – and it takes over an hour.

Glad to get that over with… but there are problems now.  Of my three screens, only one is working now.  Let’s try the usual stuff – removing then reinstalling drivers automatically, searching the web for help, undoing the PC to extract the video card to check what make and model it is (so we can search for drivers manually)…

Having reconnected all the cables we crawl out from under the desk, and we bang our head.

Problem solved, but it’s taken over two hours, disrupted the work in hand, and caused pain.  Thanks Microsoft.

Gradually, small businesses are moving to a situation where most of what we use a computer for comes via the internet – we use cloud-based accounts software, online storage, VOIP phones, screen-sharing and video meetings.  All this happens via a browser, so we can use our cloud-based accounts from a browser on any platform – Windows, Mac or Linux.  Well, perhaps not quite yet, but that’s where we’re headed.  It might be a relief to get away from the dominance of Microsoft for small business computing.

Operating systems

MacOs and Ubuntu operating systems are considerably smaller than Windows.  The size of Windows 10 is more than 100 times that of Windows 95, but does it really do that much more now?  Most of the improvement  in our “experience” comes from faster internet speeds, faster processors and bigger memory.

The operating system is so complex that we can’t possibly know what all this 10Gb of computer code is needed for.  Viruses like Stuxnet (see below) may have been in general circulation – undetected on your computer and mine – for quite some time, and easily hidden within the large Windows operating system.  Microsoft issued fixes when they learned of it, but it shows that we must assume that all our PCs carry unwanted things which get in despite our firewalls and antivirus apps.

“Stuxnet” is a virus programme designed to disable particular machines in the Iranian nuclear facility for a short while.  See this BBC news article:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12465688

Security and GDPR

As we work to comply with the requirements of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) it is clear that the operator of a small business cannot hope to understand all the detail of securing his or her computers and phones.  We ourselves are responsible for the security of our data (think about penalties and litigation here) but increasingly we can only achieve this security by trusting the effectiveness of the commercial software and services we buy.

GASP

Accountants are familiar with the term Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and HMRC refer to this as the basis for measuring income.  Similarly we should adhere to Generally Accepted Security Principles.

We must be seen to have taken “reasonable steps” to secure our data.  We don’t have the coding knowledge ourselves, so we can only follow what is generally accepted as the best way to secure our computers – keep our internet security software up-to-date, apply software updates when they become available.  We do need to go through the painful process of updating Windows, but without banging our head on the desk.

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