I call this blog “Safer Computing” because I want to evoke some of the same ideas we think about when we talk about “safer sex.” We know sex with others can’t ever be 100% absolutely safe. So we are being clear-eyed about those risks when we intelligently reduce them until the benefits outweigh the risks.
Computers were originally conceived to be super-calculators. Even the so-called “killer app”, the one that caused the IBM-PC to explode in popularity in the ’80s, was VisiCalc. VisiCcalc was one of the earliest commercially successful spreadsheet applications. But most of those early PCs were also being connected by their owners to modems, and later to LANs at work, DSL and broadband at home. We all quickly discovered that these things were not only super calculators, they were also supercharged communicators. And since communication involves other people, sooner or later there were bound to be problems with some trying to victimize others. Not to mention the potentially disastrous results of honest mistakes.
On this blog, I will discuss various security and safety issues involving computers, tablets, smartphones and connected devices. The things we do with computers are really not new or complicated. Buy a book. Read the news. Pay our bills. Catch up with friends. If I can explain these things as we do them digitally so they are as easy to understand as going to a bookstore or opening a newspaper, I will consider my mission accomplished.
Technologists are quite proud of the new and efficient and somewhat complex ways they’ve worked out to do these otherwise simple things. They want you to appreciate the engineering marvels they have wrought. So they can sometimes back up a dump truck full of technical terms, and make up a few new ones, and bury any plain meaning there might have been. The way to make my points about using computers, smart devices and the Internet more safely will be to DE-mystify the concepts. You will not find a lot of technical jargon here, and on the rare occasions you do, there will be a plain-English definition. If using your computer and the Internet to pay your bills electronically can be as easy-to-understand as writing checks and sealing them in envelopes, we’re all going to have a good time.
And one more thing: I want this to be interactive. I want to make sure that I deal with topics of concern to you. Therefore, I have opened an email inbox for you to send me your questions. Please, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer all that I can, here.