Friday, July 29, 2016

Series: Daily Mobility (16) ~ Internet Safety

In a drive to make Internet more safe for the various users, but most especially for young children, a campaign titled “Think before you click” was launched recently in Malta, supported by a number of entities. Such endeavours are not only run locally but also internationally, such as that of the UNICEF, Safer Interne Day, etc. Using the Internet carefully is of outmost important, but, there are a few vital steps to be taken by everyone to ensure that the online environment remains safe. In 2008 an Internet Safety Task Force were asked to draw up a literature review, which report was titled “Online Threats to Youth.” This report listed three main areas of challenges at that time. These were, solicitation, harassment, and problematic content. Making a search online, a particular site suggested the following challenges to which, children using the Internet are exposed to, namely, cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate material, online predators and revealing too much personal information. From a closer point of view, both the experts’ report and the information mentioned by the website, have all in common except for one specific aspect, ‘revealing too much personal information.’ Whilst the first three items found in both information sets might be obvious, the ‘too much information’ might be not. Consequently, it is imperative that, when using the Internet, you make sure to choose authoritative sites, especially when you are asked to create a personal account. Another aspect is the password. These should be at least 14 characters long, and include, both upper and lower case text, numbers, special characters, and make sure that the word is not a dictionary word! Finally, I would like to propose the following tips for parents who have children who make use of the Internet, either for leisure or school work.
  • Place your computer in a visible area of your home;
  • If your children have the PC in their room, make sure to leave the door open;
  • Envisage a time-limit;
  • Search the sites yourself, then guide the child to the same sites;
  • To monitor their devices, access the ‘History’ tab from the browser to check the sites visited;
  • Invest some time to surf the Internet together with your children, so that you get accustomed to what they do;
  • In the case of social media like FB, Instagram, etc., be aware of who your children’s friends are; if needed, create rules such as, children need permission to add friends;
  • The most important thing is to create trust, so that dialogue becomes natural and no need to hide information from you as their parent.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Series: Daily Mobility (15) ~ Choosing Hardware

First, I would like to begin to define ‘hardware.’ What is Computer Hardware? Computer Hardware refers to the physical parts of the computer, both the internal and external parts. The outside peripherals include, the keyboard, the mouse, printers or scanners, and the monitor. As for the internal components, these are, the motherboard, hard-drive/disk (HD), and the RAM. Thus, the peripherals and the components are known as the computer hardware. However, the hardware alone does not function unless there is the software. These consist of all the programmes which run on the computer, starting from the ‘operating system’ (OS) all the way to all the other programmes such as, the different software which enables you to write letters, make presentations, edit photographs, browse the Internet, read a PDF, read your mail, and many others. As with any other tool, it is important that you have a clear motive for the reason you would like to use the computer. This is necessary because it will determine the specifications of both your hardware and software. For example, if you intend to play games on your computer, you definitely are in need to have a lot of RAM as a hardware component. The higher the RAM, the better you enjoy playing your game! Additionally, you would need a good and high performing graphics card too. Or, if you are using the computer as a research tool, where you need to open multiple programmes, and watching video clips, etc., you will benefit to have at least 4GB of RAM for a start; even though most computers do come with that amount, however, it is always good to check. Another aspect of the hardware specs is the ‘CD/DVD.’ Some computer models do not come with an incorporated CD/DVD hardware option. In this case, one would have to opt to purchase one if this would be an important need to have. As for the ‘hard-drive/disk’ one would need to consider the HD size. This is in view of the ‘cloud,’ the online available space. Consequently, a question to consider is the following: Should I spend more money on the HD or purchase an external CD/DVD writer, if I need it? Also: Should I consider and external HD? Yet, even in the area of hardware, nowadays computers are becoming lighter and smaller. Maybe a question to consider is: Will these smaller and lighter computer have the same functionality as the older ones?

Series: Daily Mobility (14) ~ Spreadsheets, databases and statistics

One of the things that I remember in the good old days, when computers were starting to fill the shops, the first question to ask the shop-salesman was, “Does this computer have Word?” The answer was and still is “No!” Reflecting upon this question indicates that, people wanted to produce something with a computer. A computer on its own is of no use indeed! However, when loaded with the right applications, then, you can do limitless things…even though this has the negative side to this. Starting from the last and moving forward, statistics is what you may perform if you have either spreadsheets or a database, though the two are not the same. A spreadsheet is a sheet of columns and rows in which you may enter different numbers or even characters. However, numbers can be ‘crunched’ and consequently, you may have the desired output in the forms of totals, such as profits, deficit, surplus, etc. A database (db) might be slightly more complicated than a spreadsheet. The latter needs to be built slowly since it has an element of coding to it, and this varies according to the different code language involved. Additionally, a db offers a much powerful output since it has much more elements embedded at different granularities. Whilst in both the spreadsheet and the db certain facilities are common, yet, the power of the db is much higher and more professional. A db may be bought off the shelf, however, the risk is that it will not fit exactly the needs at hand. Whereas, a specifically designed db may incur higher costs. As regards to the statistics part, both the spreadsheet and the db can provide statistics, yet, limited in their respect. If statistics are very important for the company, then, having a db rather than a spreadsheet is more advisable and professional, since db can be designed to a level of granularity needed for the said work. A spreadsheet, on the other hand, can accommodate a simple day-to-day running of a very small entity. However, there is one important aspect in relation to statistics, namely, reporting. A db can offer detailed reporting on the different elements of the entity, whether it renders a service or manufactures a product. Finally, the important question is, “What is it that I want to obtain at the end of a day’s work?” From here the journey starts whether to start working on a spreadsheet or get a db started…then, statistics will follow after!