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    • New note by bobjonkman 29 November 2020
      Bread machines are great. I haven't bought a loaf of bread in about three years. If #sonTwo's bread machine has custom settings, I recommend 20 min knead time, changing the rise times (1hr, 1.5hrs, 1.5hrs) and at least 60-70 min bake time. A good recipe is 1 cup water, 2.5 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tbsp […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 29 November 2020
      RT @lnxw48a1 #sonTwo texted to tell me that his in-laws bought them a bread machine. Me: Oh, cool! I was thinking the same thing, but it's beyond my current budget. They can sometimes be competitive, but I'm more of *good, you're helping take care of our kids and grandkids*
    • New note by bobjonkman 28 November 2020
      I'm near the Great Lakes (about an hour's drive from either Lake Ontario or Lake Huron, depending whether I go South or West). It was 5C for most of the day, about 40F for your USians. Apparently that's normal for this time of year...
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 28 November 2020
      RT @lnxw48a1 About halfway through today's #YoCo ( #yogurt and #coffee ). Indoor temperature is 60°F, outdoor temperature is 30°F. Outdoor cats' water dish has about 0.5in / 1cm of ice on top. Very glad I'm not near the Great Lakes right now.
    • Favorite 24 November 2020
      bobjonkman favorited something by lnxw48a1: @vegos I agree. To most organizations, their primary concern is reach. So they congregate on big #corpocentric #socnets, even when the central corporation running things is actively hostile to their point of view. Then they're butthurt when their accounts are shadowbanned. Years ago, I tried to persuade some local Black […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 24 November 2020
      RT @lnxw48a1 @vegos I agree. To most organizations, their primary concern is reach. So they congregate on big #corpocentric #socnets, even when the central corporation running things is actively hostile to their point of view. Then they're butthurt when their accounts are shadowbanned. Years ago, I tried to persuade some local Black churches and ethic-focused […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by lnxw48a1 24 November 2020
      RT @lnxw48a1 https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/24/australia-spy-agencies-covid-19-app-data/ [techcrunch com] #Australia spy agencies caught collecting #COVID-19 app data #surveillance Source: https://mastodon.social/@glynmoody/105266051824700682
    • New note by bobjonkman 3 October 2020
      There's also Megablocks, the precursor to Duplo. And there are also Micro Megablocks, the same size as LEGO. The kits for Micro Megablocks were much better than the LEGO kits, making slightly larger models but using only standard bricks. The LEGO models were smaller, depending on many custom pieces specific to the kit, which were […]
    • Favorite 3 October 2020
      bobjonkman favorited something by clacke: Not only are Duplo blocks *like* Lego blocks, they *are* Lego blocks, and I don't just mean that Duplo is a Lego brand and produced in the same factory, the two systems are actually compatible.A Lego 2x2 block fits and sticks to the underside of a Duplo block, and the […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by clacke 3 October 2020
      RT @clacke Not only are Duplo blocks *like* Lego blocks, they *are* Lego blocks, and I don't just mean that Duplo is a Lego brand and produced in the same factory, the two systems are actually compatible. A Lego 2x2 block fits and sticks to the underside of a Duplo block, and the nob on […]

Shutting down ServiceOntario kiosks could be Considered Harmful

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 9th November 2012

Service Ontario kiosk with "Temporarily shut down" notice

ServiceOntario kiosk

The Ontario government has announced it is shutting down the ServiceOntario kiosks.

Closing the kiosks won’t do any good if the web site is no better secured. ServiceOntario had control over the hardware and software running on the kiosks, but they have no control over the computers people use to access the ServiceOntario web site. User PCs will have all sorts of malware running on them, and malusers can far more easily spend time breaking into a web site than a kiosk. Unless ServiceOntario has much better security on their web site, it is far more vulnerable than a kiosk.

In his article Government to discontinue ServiceOntario kiosks, Sameer Vasta asks if the ServiceOntario web site is ready to pick up the slack. His conclusion is yes, and although the web site user experience could be improved, he considers closing the kiosks a prudent move. But if the kiosk interface was so much easier to use, then the web site could use that interface too. Security isn’t created by the user interface — security needs to be built into the servers. Malusers are unlikely to use the web interface to launch their attacks; they’ll have more sophisticated tools to try to break into the servers.

Of course, since the ServiceOntario web site was already in place while the kiosks were operational it has been a potential vector for attack all along. Closing the kiosks doesn’t increase that vulnerability. And the vulnerability that prompted the government to shut down the kiosks was card skimming, which is not an issue on a Web site accessed from home. But shutting down a fully managed kiosk to be replaced by home users’ PCs that are full of malware does not look like a prudent move to me.

However, it should be cheaper to manage security on one web site than on 72 kiosks. The government reports that shutting the kiosks will save taxpayers about $6.3 million in one-time upgrading costs and $2.2 million in annual maintenance costs. The Star reports that Minister of Government Services Harinder Takhar says the kiosks cost $4 million to deploy, and it will cost $250,000 to remove them.

And shutting down the kiosks has one other benefit: If a security breach occurs as a result of using our own computers then ServiceOntario has successfully shifted blame, hasn’t it? Surely there will be a disclaimer in the fine print on the website somewhere!

–Bob.


ServiceOntario kiosk "Permanently Closed" notice

“Permanently Closed” notice Service Ontario kiosk.

The picture above shows a ServiceOntario kiosk with a notice indicating the kiosk is temporarily shut down. A new notice has been posted, which reads:

ServiceOntario Kiosks Are Now Permanently Closed.

After a thorough investigation into the safety and security issues surrounding ServiceOntario kiosks, it has been decided to permanently shut down the network.

All former kiosk services are conveniently available online, including:

  • License plate sticker renewal
  • Address change
  • Driver abstract

Fermeture permanente des kiosques ServiceOntario.

À la suite d’une enquête approfondie sur les problèmes de sécurité survenus dans les kiosques ServiceOntario, il a été décidé de fermer le réseau de façon permanente.

Tous les services anciennement founis dal les kiosques son offerts en ligne, notamment les suivants:

  • Renouvellement de la vignette d’immatriculation
  • Changement d’addresse
  • Résumé de dossier de conducteur.

We look forward to serving you.
For these services, and more than 40 other online services, or for a complete list of our locations and available services, please visit ServiceOntario.ca

Au plaisir de vous servir.
Pour ces services, et plus de 40 autres services en ligne, ou la liste complète de nos centres et de leurs services, visitez ServiceOntario.ca

Images courtesy of lothlaurien.ca used under a CC BYCreative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License license.

Thanx to my friend RW for the idea for this post, and her contributions.

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Posted in considered harmful, Politics, security | 4 Comments »

Windows 8 will be just fine

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 25th October 2012

Windows 8 logo

Microsoft® Windows® 8 logo

In spite of the controversy, the Windows 8 Modern Interface will do just fine. Some people are saying that Microsoft is making a mistake by radically changing the Windows user interface, and that people will not be able to get used to it. I don’t think so.

When I teach Windows to people who have never used a computer, they learn everything from how to hold a mouse, pointing and clicking, dragging and dropping, opening and closing windows, to using applications after about an hour of instruction and a couple of hours of practice. Lots of people are still hesitant, but after a three-hour class they have functional computer skills.

The same is true when I teach Microsoft Word for beginners. After about an hour of instruction and a couple of hours of practice, they can create a letter or write a story, colour the text, change the font, and format paragraphs. They may not be proficient enough to join a secretarial pool, but they have functional word processing skills.

I’ve also taught Microsoft Word to people taking the Microsoft Office Specialist certification. Often these people are familiar with older versions of Microsoft Word (which used toolbars and menus) but now they’re learning the new interface, which uses the Ribbon. After about an hour of instruction and a couple of hours of practice, they can find most of the functions to colour, size and format text. They may need many more hours of instruction and practice to pass the certification exam, but they’ve adapted to the new interface.

So, by analogy, I expect that people first introduced to computers on Windows 8 will take about an hour of instruction and a couple of hours of practice to become competent with the Windows 8 Modern Interface, and people with experience on Windows XP and Windows 7 will take about an hour of instruction and a couple of hours of practice to become competent on the Windows 8 Modern Interface. The difference? People used to previous versions will grumble and complain about it a lot more. I’ve done that myself; after spending well over two decades using toolbars and menus I still occasionally flounder to find the equivalents in the Ribbon. It is frustrating to unlearn old habits, or to learn new things. But Microsoft is not just making changes for the sake of making changes. The Windows 8 Modern Interface works perfectly well on desktop computers, and much better on touchscreen computers, tablets and phones. The old desktop interface that requires scrolling and clicking with a mouse just doesn’t work with a touchscreen. But for people who don’t want to make the switch the old desktop interface is still available.

While it may be funny to see people using Windows 8 for the first time without any instruction, it’s not a very real scenario. Someone who has never used a computer is unlikely to buy one without getting help, either from the retailer, a community course, or helpful friends and relatives. People who have used a computer before may struggle a bit, but if they already know the basics (scrolling, clicking, dragging) they will figure it out after a couple of hours of practice.

–Bob.

Update 27 Oct 2012: At the Windows 8 Launch Party it was made clear that the word “Metro” is no longer to be used; it is now called the “Windows 8 Modern Interface”. So I’ve updated this post.

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Posted in Microsoft Windows, Operating System, Software | 2 Comments »

 
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