A follow-up to a recent post and some repeated advice
Maybe sleep a little better….
A while ago, I passed on a tip about a piece of software called f.lux (for PCs, Macs, iPhones and iPads) that makes a computer screen more “sleep-friendly” when using it after dark. It does this by keeping an eye on the time and then, at night, it surpresses a lot of the light normally emitted by the screen at the blue end of the spectrum.
I don’t know whether it’s a coincidence, but I’ve definitely been going through a phase of sleeping quite well since I’ve been using f.lux on my main laptop. The BBC picked up on this subject recently. Research shows that, on average, we are getting an hour’s sleep less per night than 60 years ago. This is partly because of the “24 hour society” in which we now live – and computers can probably take a large share of the credit/blame for that phenomenon alone. However, this is exacerbated by the amount of light that gets into our eyes in the time before going to bed. One of the researchers said
“..efficient light bulbs as well as smartphones, tablets and computers had high levels of light in the blue end of the spectrum which is “right in the sweet spot” for disrupting the body clock.”
Do give f.lux a try if you use your computer late in the evening and have trouble sleeping.
I’ve been coming across a lot of computer support clients recently who have called me in to rid their computers of “crapware” – programs that may not be out-and-out malicious, but which cause un-necessary pop-ups and warnings about “out of date drivers” and “registry errors that need fixing”. Unless you intentionally installed a program to perform these functions then ignore what they tell you and, if possible, uninstall the programs causing the alerts. The chances are that they won’t even attempt to do what they promise unless you pay for them, but you don’t find this out until you after you’ve installed them (together, quite probably, with other rubbish programs and browser toolbars that they’ve slipped past you). More seriously, some of these programs can break your computer rather than fix it.
One of the most common ways that these programs get onto your computer is that you may search Google for something from a particular organisation and are then mis-led into thinking that a website that you visit belongs to that company. It’s easy to fool users into doing this by creating a “sub-domain” on a completely unrelated site, So, for instance, if I own a domain called “www.latestsoftwaredrivers.com” then it is easy for me to create a sub-domain called “www.canon.latestsoftwaredrivers.com”. This has nothing to do with Canon, but If you are looking for drivers for a Canon device, it is very easy to click onto this site as it looks like a perfectly reasonable and accurate result for Google to have returned if you searched for “Canon drivers”.
The key is to look for the name of the site that immediately precedes the final full stop (dot) in the website name. In this case, that is “latestsoftwaredrivers”.
I know I’ve written about this before (in a blog post called “Is that website genuine and safe“) , but observing clients clicking on links offered by Google shows me just how easy it is to be mis-led in this way. Quite often, when you click on a dodgy link that offers driver updates etc, you are then offered several confusing links to things that promise to “make your computer faster” or “fix registry errors” or “scan for system problems”. I recommend steering well clear of all such blandishments. You are more likely to invite trouble onto your computer than to resolve problems.