The other day my wife received and eMail to her gMail account. Nothing unexpected here. Except that this eMail was not meant for her. She happens to share the same name as an HR consultant somewhere in northern England. To her horror, as she started to read through the eMail, it outlined the disciplinary and private details of a dismissal of an individual from a (to be un-named) manufacturing company and the thoughts of the managers involved asking for advice. Her reaction was to reply to the original sender and delete the message.

I have received eMails to my gMail to the same effect; a customer had a wetsuit shipped to him from a company in Dorset, family pictures to a Doug Hirst in Northern America and on a domestic level these make very little difference. However this was not domestic, this was the very detailed, confidential, private files meant to be used by a paid professional in her line of business. I am fairly sure that the Data Protection Act 1998 would have something to say about this. Taking reasonable measures to ensure your data is going to the person you want it go to is kinda important!

As someone who is tech orientated I have to confess to a small amount of snobbery - a tradesman or company with a @btinternet, @gmail or @hotmail email address is an immediate turn off. I am not saying I will not use their services, but I will double check their details much more. A bit like seeing a Tesco van making a delivery to your local "gastropub" - there is nothing wrong per se but is suggests a lack of understanding of how to run a business and getting the basics right.

This got me thinking, how much responsibility is involved in ensuring that every step which can be taken to ensure that human errors like this do not impact you, your company. With a dedicated domain (the bit after the "@" in an eMail) if someone gets the address wrong (i.e. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. instead of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) the eMail is still received on the system and is in the hands of people with a contractual responsibility to you! With public, high user base systems it may end up in a very different place.

Some practical advice - it is cheap and easy to have a domain hosted offering a variety of services. Most of these cost less than a weekly Starbucks run! - Approx £20 to register the domain and around £ 12 per month will get you a full service, and usually include webmail.  Providers of these include Heart Internet, who I currently use and 1-2-3reg who I have heard a number of people recommend.

You can, of course, go much further - setup your own server with a shared address book (so everyone in your company has the right eMail addresses) and setup secure file sharing space so that only those who are meant to share confidential info are able access it. These are bigger solutions but they are also important - much like taking the time to make sure your showroom is clean and tidy - you should also make sure you are putting into place as many systems as needed to ensure that your data is not ending up with people who should no have it! 

My advice is look into how and where your data goes. If you do not have time get in contact with someone like me who can take it onboard for you; you do the same for your taxes, but get it done. Loosing your data could cost you a lot more!

I thought I'd share my experiences upgrading my iMac.

I have a great iMac, bought in 2011 for home use, eMails, the odd game of starcraft 2, Aperture and iPhoto. It has been a great machine and still is! I wanted to give it a bit more OOoomph! Looking through the bottlenecks; it was clear my internal 1TB WD data was much slower than many others that are available today. A quick xBench put it at 91 on their scoring system. I knew it could be better. The boot up time was in the order of 1min 30 secs - no long, but my Air takes approx 10 secs and that is what I liked! 12GB RAM was already enough to do everything I wanted so it seemed the next logical step.

I spoke to the guys at MacUpgrades; they had in stock a 120GB SSD and 3TD Seagate Barracuda drive, so for under £250 I could have both installed and ready to rock. A small piece of software called HDD fan control took care of the thermal sensor in the seagate not being supported and I was ready to rock

Once the hardware was installed, I put a clean 10.9 on the SSD - booting in only 15 secs to a full OS and ready to browse - quite a speed boost and an xBench of over 700!!! Great, I thought but what about Fusion Drive, I want a big HDD with all the speed of SSD. Following this OWC walk through I got myself a 3.1TB Fusion drive!

Leaving it overnight to migrate all the data from my 1TB and some tests to do. The new, fully migrated machine boots in 16 seconds, gives a xBench of 391 on the fusion drive and the whole OS feels more responsive. The Barracuda also appears to be much quieter too - which is a bonus!

So, a happy camper am I. Keeping a machine up and running for longer...

The folly of thrift; well the official term is "The Paradox of thrift" and refers to the fact that saving because you have little money means that there is less money around and everyone has less money. I am thinking of false economies - buying a cheaper product which does not do the same and makes it harder to do what you wanted to do in the first place.

I was recently in a motorbike accident. I miss timed a corner and side swiped an oncoming car - resulting in damage to my right leg, arm and hand but only bruises and scrapes. The car could not open their drivers door and my bike drove itself into the hedge and stopped. I may never ride a motorbike again. C'est la Vie.

I was very lucky, practice and training meant I was progressing at a slower speed than I could have been; but I also had all the right protective gear. I was wearing expensive, professional grade motorbike boots with a solid sole and armour built in; these probably saved my right ankle from being destroyed. I was wearing very expensive, Kevlar weave trousers which were fully armoured in the knee and hips; these probably mean I can walk normally in a few weeks and not have months of physio. I had a great helmet; so never lost consciousness. I had decent jacket and gloves; protecting my back, shoulder, elbow and hands from the abrasive effects of the tarmac as my body slid from 40 mph to standstill.

Without this equipment I would have been in a much worse way and it got me thinking about cost vs value. The protective gear I wore cost more than my bike, and the value it gave me when used counted more than money could ever repay.

I see the same with the IT equipment people try and use to get their business done. Customers don't have backups of data which it would be inconceivable to survive without, contact data for customers, invoices and paperwork for tax returns. I see customers who have "everything on eMail" which is hosted by a company which they have no contract with any more (btinternet have just culled a load of older customer data, ntlworld / Virgin Media have done the same). There are reliable, cheap and effective options to stop these problems if only people were aware of them and thought about the consequences. More expensive solutions sometimes deliver better value giving you features which become invaluable.

Buying a more expensive laptop with a better life that means you can work on the train home is better value than a cheaper alternative but is not there when you need it.

When deciding on a solution, look at more than just the bottom line, ROI, etc. Decide if it delivers a value to your business and understand that sometimes it costs more to get something of great value down the line.

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