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Are Your Bits Flipped?

Book Description

Overcoming Tech Misconceptions

Just as a single "flipped bit" in a piece of computer code can bring an otherwise reliable app crashing to a halt, a single misconception in your understanding of personal computing technology can cause all manner of problems -- including lost data, wasted time, and constant frustration as you live and work in today's increasingly digital world. In this unique title from Take Control, which is packed with little-known facts and debunked beliefs, tech expert Joe Kissell untangles common confusions surrounding the high-tech products and services we all rely on every day.

By eliminating your tech misconceptions, you'll:

  • Avoid common errors that waste precious time or result in data loss.

  • Make decisions based on an accurate understanding of how things work.

  • Find yourself asking for -- or paying for! -- computer help less often.

  • Have clear explanations on hand when others ask you for help.

  • Better understand tech topics in the headlines -- encryption, passwords, privacy, and more.

  • Make a stronger impression at a job interview, user group, or wherever your tech skills may be judged.

Some of the 16 chapters in this 190-page book are updated and expanded versions of essays originally published in TidBITS.

You'll start thinking more clearly about:

  • Trust: Can you trust an online service like iCloud or Gmail, or a password manager?

  • Privacy: How do you evaluate your privacy when a Web site wants you to give it personal information? What if the site wants to track the way you use it? What if you want to store confidential data on it?

  • Fear: Should you worry about using Java or JavaScript, two computer languages that have little in common except their names?

  • Clicking: Why click twice when you can click once? Sort out once and for all what a single click versus a double click can accomplish rather than just clicking randomly like a teenager.

  • Opening apps: Are you in the shockingly large group of people who spend too much time on the mundane action of opening apps?

  • Cloud accumulation: How many cloud services (like Dropbox or Google Drive) do you need, where are your "cloud" files actually kept, and how can you keep your monthly cost down?

  • Email: How can you ensure that attachments make it through? Do you worry about where your email is actually located? Did you know you can choose an email address that will work over time and make you look better online?

  • Backups: Are you relying on a backup strategy that will let you down? Should you worry about what happens if you start up your Mac from a bootable duplicate?

  • Encryption: Do you understand why the U.S. government is going after the giant tech companies, and why the stakes are high for your own use of encryption?

  • Passwords: Do you know why it's such a bad idea to use the same password for multiple sites, or to rely on a pattern? (Please, please, use a password manager.)

  • Web: Are your Web searches finding what you want quickly and easily? Did you know that you can navigate the Web more effectively if you understand how URLs work?

Is this book for a person like me?

We designed the book for people with a wide range of tech experience, from those who do little more than read email and browse the Web all the way up to people who provide technical support professionally. A few topics focus on the Mac, but the majority of the book is of general interest.

Table of Contents

  1. Read Me First
    1. Updates and More
  2. Introduction
  3. 1. Misplaced Trust (and Mistrust)
    1. The Object of Your Trust
    2. The Domain of Trust
    3. Mediated Trust
    4. How Outside Influences Disrupt Trust
    5. The Bottom Line on Trust
    6. Trusting Technology
  4. 2. Do Privacy Policies Mean Anything?
    1. Policies vs. Facts
    2. What’s in the Fine Print
    3. Put Privacy in Context
  5. 3. Cloudy Choices for Cloud Storage
    1. Factors to Consider
    2. The Path of Simplicity
    3. Alternative Approaches
    4. Figuring Out Where Your Data Is
  6. 4. IMAP Misconceptions
    1. (Not So) New Kid on the Block
    2. Where the Messages Are
    3. File It Once, Find It Everywhere
    4. More Different than Alike
    5. Standards vs. Practices
    6. POP on over to IMAP
    7. Stuck in the Past
  7. 5. Mac Apps: An Open and Closed Case
    1. How Not to Open an App
    2. The Fast Find-and-Open Move
    3. Finding Apps Manually
    4. Other Ways to Open an App
    5. Quitting an App
  8. 6. The Right Way to Search the Web
    1. One Wrong Way to Search the Web
    2. Search Facts Everyone Should Know
    3. Web Search Tips and Strategies
  9. 7. Overcoming URL Confusion
    1. What’s in a URL
    2. What’s Not in a URL
    3. URLs in Action
  10. 8. Java, JavaScript, and You
    1. Java, East of Krakatoa
    2. Once upon a Platform
    3. Joe on Java
    4. JavaScript
    5. Final Thoughts
  11. 9. Four Password Myths
    1. 1: One Password Can Rule Them All
    2. 2: Nine Is Enough
    3. 3: Hackers Can’t Guess My Pattern
    4. 4: Attackers Will Use the Front Door
    5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
  12. 10. Twelve Stupid Backup Strategies to Avoid
    1. 1. Having No Backups at All
    2. 2. Depending on Data Recovery Apps or Services
    3. 3. Wishful Thinking
    4. 4. Doing Manual Backups
    5. 5. Using Only Time Machine
    6. 6. Using Only Clones for Backup
    7. 7. Having No Offsite Backups
    8. 8. Having Only Online Backups
    9. 9. Relying Solely on Dropbox (or a Similar Service)
    10. 10. Assuming Web Apps Don’t Need Backups
    11. 11. Thinking of RAID as a Backup
    12. 12. Not Testing Your Backups
    13. Be Smart about Your Backups
  13. 11. Booting Your Mac from a Duplicate
    1. Swapping Your Startup Drive
    2. Booting from an External Drive
    3. Booting a Different Mac
    4. Don’t Sweat It
  14. 12. Encryption Misunderstandings
    1. Encryption Basics
    2. Encrypting Files and Folders
    3. FileVault and other Full-disk Encryption Tools
  15. 13. 1Password vs. iCloud Keychain
    1. 1Password’s Advantages
    2. iCloud Keychain’s Benefits
  16. 14. How Email Attachments Work (and Don’t)
    1. A Few Words about MIME
    2. The Role of the Email Client
    3. Attachment Tips for Everyone
    4. Attachment Tips for Apple Mail Users
  17. 15. Email Address Misconceptions
    1. What’s Your Email Address?
    2. A Couple’s Address? Really?
    3. Accounts, Domains, and Providers
    4. Ditch a Locked-In Provider
  18. 16. Keeping Your Bits from Being Flipped
    1. Think Like a Two-Year-Old (at First)
    2. Think Like a Grownup
    3. Ask the Right Questions
  19. Other Books about Being Wrong
  20. About This Book
    1. Ebook Extras
    2. About the Author
    3. About the Publisher
  21. Copyright & Fine Print