Sunday, October 25, 2015

iPad Virtual Desktop

I had lunch with one of my former co-workers recently. We were chatting about virtual desktops (VDI) as that keeps coming up with my current clients.

We were deep diving into clients for virtual desktops. He related that one of their technical architects was working on iOS VDI clients. He was getting frustrated and asked the following question:
Why are we trying to make an iPad work like a Windows desktop?
Good question.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

PayPal Preapproved Payments

Recently we bought something from Sears and used PayPal to pay for it. We selected to use a debit card as payment to PayPal. We thought that was relatively safe as Sears wouldn't have access to the debit card and could only process that one transaction.

How wrong we were.

My wife was subsequently balancing her checking account and saw several charges and debits against her checking account using the debit card via PayPal.

That was odd.

While the charges were acceptable (Sears had miscalculated the shipping) giving Sears the ability to process charges and debits against her checking account without our approval is not what we had intended.

Looking back through the e-mail surrounding this transaction I found this e-mail from PayPal.

I don't remember that being obvious during the Sears/PayPal transaction.

And PayPal doesn't make it easy to find these agreements on their site.

Login to PayPal as normal.

Then up in the top right is a little gray gear. Click on that.

On the next screen scroll down to the bottom and find "Payment settings" and under that click on "Preapproved payments."

And there's Sears.

By the time I took the above screen capture I had canceled the agreement.

Click on the Merchant's name and you'll get this.

If the agreement is still active you'll be able to click on "Cancel" here.

I'm surprised at the merchants that do this. In my case I found payment agreements with Sears, TravelSmith, Orvis, eBay, Age of Learning, Office Depot, Zappos, iTunes,, TigerDirect, GoDaddy, and Woot. Several on this list I used PayPal deliberately to deny the merchant unapproved access to my credit.

This verges on sneaky, both on the part of the merchant and PayPal.

And while I have your attention on PayPal, go read this.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cloud Security

I follow a number of CIO-orientated blogs and this article popped up recently:
Why promises about cloud security make me uneasy
I couldn't have said it better myself.

The entire article is worth reading but I'll try to pull out the highlights here.
Cloud companies will tell you that their products and services are secure and you can use security products to ensure that your data and applications are secure. I am a bit skeptical.
I can maintain and monitor use and access to my user base and interrogate logs of application use however I lack key visibility when in comes to the cloud...
While many organizations struggle to "maintain and monitor use and access" at least they control their own destiny. In a cloud environment you will "lack key visibility."

You'll recall my observations in a prior post. a CIO are you comfortable with this level of opacity to service failures?
From the referenced article:
I lack control of the cloud and am dependent on a third party vendor for disclosure and transparency ...
Not a comfortable position for a CIO.

To raise both sides of this topic, if you or your organization are not able to "maintain and monitor use and access" maybe delegating that to a cloud provider is the prudent thing to do.

Just make sure your boss is on board with your decision. And that you've got the mobile number of your cloud salesperson.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

International Cellular Plans 2015

Back in 2011 I covered my international cellular usage for a trip to Italy. In 2015 we traveled to Ireland so I looked again.

As you would hope AT&T has simplified and lowered the prices on their international cellular plans. As of May 2015 here are their plans.

Unlike 2011 you can't pro-rate these plans when you get back. But there is still an angle. Keep on reading.

The cost per megabyte has dropped. In 2011, 125MB was $50. In 2015 120MB was $30. In 2011, texts were $.20 each. In 2015, texts sent are free. Texts received are charged at your domestic rate (free for me on Mobile Share Value Plan). Voice is the same as 2011 at the Passport level.

The unlimited texts were nice for us as we tended to text among the travel party.

Several of us had iPhones which iMessage uses data so we had to log them out of iMessage.

On an iPhone, a day before leaving you should turn off iMessage.

To confirm this send a couple of text messages. The bubbles should be green instead of blue. When the bubbles are green, even international texts are free with AT&T's Mobile Share Value Plan. The only downside is that text messages won't go to an iPad.

When you land overseas, you need to make the following changes.

First turn off "Background App Refresh". All the apps will still work but you'll just have to initiate their updates, e.g. e-mail.

Then turn on "Data Roaming".

At the bottom of this screen is a menu item to "Reset Statistics". If you tap this it'll reset your data usage tracking so you can see where you are against the AT&T international plan.

Then undo all this when you get back in the U.S.

Android is not so complicated. Just turn on "Data roaming" and turn off "Auto-sync data".

On my Moto X, the LTE bands on AT&T's Irish partner weren't supported so I expected to only get UMTS+. However in the areas where I was (really rural) I mostly got 3G and sometimes even EDGE.

When I returned I called AT&T and they could tell me the data usage and calling minutes. They then re-rated the plans to the most cost effective. This saved me $33.

Post script: Be careful not to read too much into the AT&T Passport pitch on "messaging" being "unlimited." Notice that doesn't say "free." It is true that there is no direct per message charge for messages sent. (Messages received are billed at the domestic rate.)

But let's think for a second about the two different types of "messages." First there's the traditional text only, single recipient message. That is called Short Message Service (SMS).

Second there's the message with a picture or multiple recipients. This is called Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).

SMS messages don't require cellular data. MMS messages do require cellular data. And this cellular data will count against your allowance in the Passport offering.