Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Minimizing Wi-Fi Risks

Public relations people tend to spend a lot of time in the field, making presentations, meeting with clients and their stakeholders and setting up special events. Like all road warriors, PR professionals depend upon a wide range of high-tech tools. What I hadn’t been aware of until recently is the fact that your Wi-Fi can put your laptop — and your important data — at risk.

Consumerist recently featured an article recommending that you disable your Wi-Fi before you close the lid on your laptop … otherwise thieves using inexpensive Wi-Fi scanners can locate — and snatch — your computer. (Some laptops can take 30 minutes or more before going into “sleep” mode.)

One more word of warning — this time from Domenico Bettinelli’s Bettnet blog (via Neatorama). In airports that offer free Wi-Fi, before you connect, check out the options carefully.

“I was recently at New York’s JFK airport in the JetBlue terminal, where they have prominent signs offering free Wi-Fi, courtesy of the airline,” Bettinelli reports. “But when I went to connect, I noticed that several options were available including one labeled ‘default’ and another labeled ‘JetBlue free hotspot.’”

It turns out that the former was the real, free Wi-Fi and the latter was a trap designed to fool unsuspecting travelers into exposing their computers and data to hackers.

It’s good advice for PR pros — and indeed for anyone who travels for a living and relies on high-tech devices: Check before you connect. And be sure to disconnect when you’re done!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Global Impact of Great Graphic Design

Look at the sign on the left. If you’re an American, its meaning is instantly clear: EXIT means GET OUT HERE. It’s obvious, right? The glowing red color conveys urgency and is easily spotted in any commercial space.

But according to Julia Turner, in a fascinating article in Slate, people from other countries are confounded by our familiar icon, and much prefer the green running man on the right.

If you think about it, the graphic design on the right makes a lot more sense. The running man, which was designed by about 40 years ago Yukio Ota, can be understood even by people who can’t read English, including those who interpret the color red as signifying DANGER or STOP (not “go this way to be safe”).

Turner writes, “International designers tend to think our system is illogical and consider our rejection of the running man to be as dumb as our refusal to adopt that other sensible international norm, the metric system.”

But change is inevitable — and good graphic design inevitably triumphs, especial in a word class city like New York, which altered the fire code four years ago to mandate that high-rises include the running man on fire doors on every floor.

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