Lessons Learned: Check, Check and Check Again

This story comes from my first year.

Studio Production, first semester, second assignment. The task involved us recording a multitrack audio session, clean it up with some post poduction and bounce a  mix down to a stereo track and record onto an audio, to be handed into our tutor for marking. Here’s the twist – none of it was done through computer based audio environments – all outboard equipment, including the storage:

Mixing Studio 1, UoH Scarborough. Own Work

Different Project, Same Desk.

Some of the hardware used. Own Work

Some of the Hardware Used

Guess what? Our group failed – and all because of a really trivial reason. We made a small mistake in the process and due to time constraints, didn’t think to check our setup, check we’d pressed all the correct buttons to finalise our disc or indeed time to test the disc in a second player (which would have proved that final step didn’t work). We didn’t think we’d need to. We were wrong.

As a result of this I didn’t get enough marks in the weighting to pass the module initially, but got the opportunity to resit the assignment  as a pass (a mark of 40 or a third) or a fail and a chance to not resit the entire module, or fail and to redo the module to get the credits to complete my degree. The resit assignment in this case consisted of an essay, which fortunately I passed with – however this rendered the group work we had spent hours on worthless in the end.

When you hand in formal pieces of work at University, between the markers they will often scrutinise everything down to the ground. Spelling, reference style, tracing references and sources, lengths of quotes, clips and samples as well as any paraphrasing to ensure you’re not outright plagiarising or simply regurgitating the facts and most importantly – have you followed the instructions provided and/or answered the question.

Forgetting these crucial elements, whilst appearing trivial in everyday life, will cost you dearly in academia, so it pays to check at every stage for spelling and grammar (thankfully if you’re using a modern word processor package such as Google Docs, Microsoft Word or Open/LibreOffice Writer, this will be done for you), for if any of what you write or do fits what they ask or if you’ve made a mention to something out there, you’ve written it in the right format in your documentation (see my previous post on Assignments to learn more) and you’ve kept to the right duration, size, format and word count.

Check it as you write or do it, check it when you read it, get someone else to read/listen/watch and check it and if in doubt, send a draft to your tutor or invite them to see/hear your planned submission and get some feedback so you can check again.

Keep this practice in with each draft, each paragraph and each take/performance and you should avoid considerable embarrassment and a greater chance of getting above 40 in your final mark for it.

The best of luck out there!



Over to You (August ’17)

Okay, so here’s something different for this week. I’m turning the tables and asking you to fill in the blank for me. What I’d like to know is:

What Bothers (or Bothered) You the Most About Your Lecturer or Tutor’s Teaching Style?

This could be the delivery of the lecture or a workshop, the way the module/class is laid out, any points of feeling disengaged, the frequency and weight of the assignments/homework – whatever you wished wasn’t part of the experience or could be changed to serve you better.

Now whilst this is an opinion poll, it doesn’t give license to personally attack your educator in answer to my question. Likewise to keep it confidential no tutor names please. If you’d also like to remain anonymous yourself, feel free to leave a pseudonym in the comments below rather than on the social media posts (privacy note: your email address will not be displayed either to the world and is only used to keep you up to date on the thread of discussion).

Be sure to check back next week to see the compiled opinions along with another new post next week.



5 Great Items To Fuel A Trip

Summer was made for trips, whether you can drive, or prefer the coach or train (or indeed any other vehicle you have access to), a roadtrip can give you a sense of adventure. But of course, without provisions, what may be a peaceful drive for some can on it’s own be a pretty dull experience for others. So here’s 5 great essentials to ensure the transition can be just as enjoyable as points A and B themselves.

A Digital Map

Sounds obvious right? But sometimes the help of a GPS based device such as a Sat Nav or a spare smartphone can help you find service stops on the way, warnings about bad traffic or suggestions of cool places to stop at on the way to your final destination. Unless you’re good a geography, old school atlases can be a little frustrating with this, so if you’re going paper, make sure you get a local map to help you get a better handle on things.

A Playlist!

Everyone loves a good set of music when travelling, although if your a driver, fiddling about on your phone when driving at high speed doesn’t mix and in a number of countries is actually illegal as it’s a distraction to driving. So the perfect solution other than having a DJ in your passenger seat that knows your every move, is to build a playlist in advance of your favourite songs, or ones to set the mood for where you are heading. Using the route information from the items above can help you to calculate roughly how long your list should be – though I’d double it to be sure so you don’t have to repeat songs too many times over on the ride home. If you’re heading on a long distance trip, it’s worth making space on your device to download your music for offline use, or go old-school and use an MP3 player or CD player (go cassette if you’re retro!) so you’re not faced with silence when your SIM card/cell loses service.

Snacks and Drinks

Going the distance can take time and particularly when it gets hot, you can get pretty thirsty. Having a few provisions on hand can be helpful, both for quenching and good for the soul! Just be careful if it lasts for several hours. One can only consume so much Haribo or Mint Imperials and feel no effects…


More for the vehicle drivers, you want to show off where you’re going or want great proof for insurance claims should you happen to drive somewhere that’s got a reputation for the more ‘creative’ drivers on our roads, then a good camera for your dashboard may well be able to help. Similar to their action based friends (with action cams such as GoPro sometimes even taking on the role of a dashcam), action cams let you record your trip either in realtime or through schedule intervalled photographs (known as a time lapse). These time lapses (sometimes referred to specifically as ‘drive lapses’) are popular online as a great way to document your trip, as a nice segue in any outing vlog and (in the case of the realtime ones) can provide valuable evidence if you get into or encounter any trouble on the roads.

Good Friends or Family

Driving alone can get, well, lonely – so why do it alone if there’s an option to have someone along for the ride? If you can’t have someone present and you have Bluetooth or a car kit, call someone up before setting off and have them keep you company (maybe both of you could even be driving/coaching/railing at the same time. Be cautious to heed that last sentence though and don’t get caught out with a phone in your hand whilst you’re behind the wheel (especially in the UK where fines and prison sentences can be the consequence of being caught doing this!)


What is most essential to you on a road or transport trip? Do you think I’ve missed any super important ones? Please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments.

Happy Trails!



Cheaper Than Chips – Tech to Help You Get Essays Done

We’ve all been there – Either a laptop or desktop isn’t affordable, or yours ‘explodes’ right as your warranty or care plan dies or there’s that awkward moment when you stagger in after a night out and knock over that glass of water you planned on having all over your keyboard. Maybe it’s not that – maybe your kit is just getting old and unusable for those essays you need to write, maybe you missed the boat on that special offer for Microsoft Office or your dream of a new Macbook Pro you planned to buy with your student loan  was quashed when you realised you still  have rent/bills/insurance to pay, food/alcohol/clothes to buy and potentially a reading list of books you’ll only need once to pick up.

Despite being almost ubiquitous these days, computers aren’t cheap and neither is software. Depending on your course, sometimes one person’s most useful tool is wasted on others that know what they’re doing or prefer alternative methods of organising their information.

For those that are cash strapped, here’s a few ideas that allow you to write your documents, run your calculations and do your basic research without resorting to crazy expenses.

Always Look on the Light Side of Life

Whilst this (debated) lyric may be shadowed by its more famous former line in the Monty Python song, so is a world of alternatives to the more famous offerings by Apple and Microsoft. Whilst many people like trends and there are many that fear to stray the path of the familiar, there are many hidden gems that may be able to save you money rather than just going by a well known brand name.

Some computers that often come up cheaper include Google’s Chromebook, a used computer found online (to which you may only need to buy a new harddrive) or even taking the hobbyist route of a Raspberry Pi (which can now even be expanded to desktop computer or laptop configurations). Both of these come out much cheaper than the average computer, but also don’t traditionally run Windows or MacOS right off the bat (check out the tutorials on “dual booting” from Techgirl88 in the links on the right if you want to make that happen though), but instead offer their own breed of operating systems to allow you to achieve the same thing in writing papers, doing research and updating your social life (as well as streaming music or video).

Whilst I can’t really put a bias on your choice – much of the editing of this blog is done on a Raspberry Pi 3 when I’m at home, whilst my laptop also runs on a free operating system for mobile use).


Keep Your Options (and your mind) Open

If you feel like you need to sell your old CD/DVD/Blu-Ray collection just so you can write essays, you’ll be glad to know there’s much more to life than solely Word, Excel and PowerPoint (that said, if you’re a qualifying school, you may be able to get it free).

There are many free options that are compatible with these programs in addition to Pages, Numbers and Keynote on Mac.

For desktop based suites you could try the similar programs OpenOffice and LibreOffice that offer direct alternatives named Writer, Calc and Impress in addition to a whole host of other programs for different tasks. For the Online ones there’s Google’s Drive suite that includes Docs, Sheets and Slides or if you crave for the familiar, there’s basic editing functions in Word, Excel and PowerPoint online. Finally, for simple notation such as Lecture notes on your phone, tablet or laptop – Evernote is a good auto-saving cloud based solution for rapid taking and saving of notes (especially if you forget to charge either one and it dies part way through) with the option to pay a small amount to upgrade your storage space or number of active devices as you see fit.

For more exciting and interactive presentations, Microsoft Sway is available as a light alternative to PowerPoint for free to those on tablets/phone or Windows 10 devices. There’s also cloud based tools such as Prezi Next, Slides.com and Haiku Deck – all of whom offer their own unique ways of presenting with free tiers readily available to the cash strapped student or lecturer.

For those the brave with an existing or handed down computer, or those whom didn’t fancy attempting to buy Windows 10 now the free offer has expired or to shell out for a Macbook to write essays on (Multimedia students, I understand your conundrum), it’s worth considering the 3rd family of operating systems. Whilst Linux looks a little scary to some, getting the right version can save you some serious money and with there being thousands of choices, if you don’t like the version you use, simply back up your files and install a new one. If you choose to go down this route, the systems I can recommend heavily are UberStudent (designed for Educational use), Linux Mint (for those that preferred the Windows XP/7 look), Peppermint OS (what I currently use on laptop – useful for cloud based apps and is more colourful than Mint), elementary OS (for those that prefer the MacOS layout), Ubuntu (the iPhone of the distros) or Zorin OS (designed with beginners in mind) – of course you can choose for yourself here and tweak the results as much or as little as you need to get your perfect choice!

Don’t Buy If You Don’t Need

The other simple option is if you won’t miss it and don’t particularly need your own machine, don’t forget your Student Union and University or even local library often have computers available too. These are often preloaded with tools allowing you to research and reference easily. Unfortunately printing or extended time often won’t come for free, but if it’s possible for you to email your work somewhere or store it on a free cloud storage site, you can often find a workaround to this.


Depending on your specific needs, there’s plenty of options out there to the cash strapped student. Being in a place of research, don’t be afraid to try something different rather than judging a book for it’s cover. You might just surprise yourself and save yourself enough to buy a celebratory pint afterwards!



Going on Holiday

So summer is here and you’re free of Uni! (Well for a bit if you haven’t graduated yet). Of course naturally there’s a chance you’ve made some lifelong friends along the way, or perhaps you’d like a chance to catch up with your school friends now you’re all grown up, or both! So whats’ the perfect way to do this during the break? Take a break together! Be it local to home or miles away, or indeed in another country, here’s some tips to ensure you have a great adventure without any hassle.

Do You Reseah

I know, I know you’ve spent months reeling through books and web searches, but this one is useful even if you’re planning a couple of months in advance. Many people will nip into the travel agent and just accept what the travel agent gives them, or jumps on the most recent Greek or Spanish adventure. And that’s totally fine if you’re into that – but getting a good price is always a wise idea!

Sites such as Hotwire, Skyscanner, KAYAK and lastminute.com all offer great deals and allow you to filter your features easily so you know what you’re paying for. If you do fancy taking a plunge, there is often the ‘secret’ option, where you get to know the features of your accomodation, but know idea what it’s called or it’s exact address until you confirm your booking. Another fantastic place to check out if you’re under 26 or still a student is STA Travel, whom focus on student adventures for student prices.

The same goes for your currency. Whilst sites like XE.com and the currencies provided on News shows provides a pretty accurate exchange rate, these are mid-market rates as opposed to the Bureau de change, whom may add on a commision to the price of each unit of currency you exchange as explained here.


Drinking costs money. And if you’re planning on partying a lot, it might not necessarily be cheaper where you go (even on that amazing exchange rate). So it’s worth pocketing a bit more to be safe. If you’re not a drinker, it might be worth budgeting more for spontaneous adventures you may decide to have. And of course, for taking a big step and travelling halfway around the world, keep a small fund available in case things go south and you have to break your current plans.

For international travellers, when it comes to getting your foreign currency, take the time to make a fine balance of what to carry. Too much cash can put you at risk in case you lose it or go mad with spending one day/night. Too little and you may end up paying out to use the cash machines/ATMs to top up your fund. Do you research to find out what the cost of basic living is if you plan on using supermarkets, or the rough menu prices of hotels. If you go all inclusive, then you’re halfway there!

It’s worth checking your banks to see whom can let you have cash without breaking your bank account. Money Saving Expert have a good article on credit/debit card use here and it’s also worth checking to see if your bank is in a union with other international banks such as the Global ATM Alliance (explained here).

Plan Your Route

If you’re doing travelling, naturally it’s a good idea to have half an idea of where you’d like to explore when visiting another place, rather than just purely than the plan of  “see when I get there”. The Internet is a wonderful place to do this with sites like TripAdvisor or even searching a country like Wikipedia to discover popular attractions. If you’re looking for seasonal events or on the pulse reviews, sites such as TimeOut magazine are useful too with a host of city sites available to show you the most relevant information on what’s happening right now and what may be happening in the time period when you get there.

If you’re stuck for idea, check with a travel agent and take a brochure (even if you don’t plan to book with them specifically) or visit STA  Travel and pick one of their routes to work off (not sponsored by the way!)

Sort Out Your Documentation In Advance

Yes, I know it’s boring, but to make it through borders and to ensure you can actually sleep in the hotel you pay for, make sure to make a copy of everything to be safe – room confirmations, tickets (even eTickets and screenshots of mobile tickets), card/PayPal receipts, itineraries etc. That way, if there’s a dispute at any point, you have the records to prove it. If you’re leaving the country it’s also making sure you passport is definitely up to date you can make it through border control – not only going there, but making sure you can come home too!

Sort out an International SIM/Cell or Check International Plans

With nearly everyone having access to a smartphone these days, it’s really useful to have it as a form of contact whilst you’re out and about and in case of an emergency. But broadcasting your party on Facebook live in a foreign country on your home contract could cost you an absolute fortune unless you’ve got an international rate set up. If you can’t get something that’ll work on roaming, look at companies such as Lebara Mobile or order a local card for when you get there. When you do, let someone back home know your temporary number, just incase since you can’t alway s rely on having internet access.

Having local-friendly data (where available) or access to free WiFi will also be hugely beneficial to the sharers, so you can Snapchat, Tweet or post without any worries (just as you should whilst you’re on holiday!)

Have Fun!

Taking a bunch of you on holiday can sound like a logistical nightmare when you add the concerns above in.  But once the preparation is complete and  you get there, it’s gonna be great! So kick back, take in a few sights, crack a can or two, go for a swim and enjoy your respective choice of weather!

Have a great summer guys and gals,



Drink or WIN? – Graduation

So, you’ve made it through 3 (or 4 or more) years of painfully sleepless nights, more books than you’ve probably read in your life, had highs, had lows, but the end is finally here and you’re about to get hold of the most expensive piece of paper you’ve ever owned. It can be both an exciting and also a scary day and as a result of a less than calm demeanour it can be easy to forget a few ground rules.

To help make sure you make this occasion a WIN on the big day, here’s a few dos and don’ts.

DO: Turn Up on Time

Despite feeling like weddings where things last all day, the ceremony itself is only a couple to a few of hours long and is strictly timed in an effort to get a large number of you announced, on stage, collecting your degree and back to your seat again – and considering you’re announced one by one it’s likely to take some time (which will also explain why some larger universities and colleges will graduate at different times of day and on different days). This means the ceremony has to start as on time as possible, and unlike a wedding, you’re not the only star, so if you’re not there once the actual awarding of degrees starts (in some institutions by the time the doors to your hall close), they’ll assume you are in absentia and you won’t get to partake in the ceremony as it happens (often having your degree arranged to be posted home).

DON’T: Wear Trainers, Tank Top/Vests and Shorts

Yes, during the main event you will be robed and capped, but remember that you won’t have these on all day and if you’re hiring you’ll still be turning up to a formal event in regular clothes and leaving in them, not to mention that the robe isn’t a dress and doesn’t cover your entire body. So it’s advised to dress appropriately as with any formal occasion. As a tip, many robes will actually hang from you (a bit like a fancy poncho) and will rely on an item of your clothing to hang on to so if possible, wear a shirt. If you’re more of a dress type, it’s wise to make sure it has some form of buttons sewn onto the front as these will be much better than the back up plan of a safety or needle style pin, which may rip your clothing from the weight of the robe!

Think smart. Dress Smart. Look Smart.

DO: Get Pictures with Friends

Graduation is ususally the last time you’ll see your housemates and uni friends together as ‘students’ (though really you’re now graduands/graduates), so just as you likely got pictures together in fresher’s week, take the time to complete the chapter together before you all go out into the big wide world. It’s worth doing it now, rather than just waiting until the after party since you can’t guarantee you’ll get around to it after all the hugs, pints, shots and reminiscing.

DON’T: Get Drunk Before the Ceremony is Out

I hate to sound like the party pooper here, since the big day is all about celebrating getting to the end – which for many is synonymous with popping a cork or cracking a can, but don’t get too ahead of yourself! You’ve still got to sit through one more session as well as get up and across stage in front of the seniors of your institution, and make it back to your seat – and this isn’t an ideal time to attempt a challenge! It’s worth noting that you’ll get to sip champagne afterwards (sometimes provided by the university!) and there’s always a graduation party somewhere that you won’t want to be hungover for. So Party on! – Just save it until School’s well and truly out!

DO: Have an Awesome Time!

You worked hard to make it this far through numerous years! Granted the ceremony may come across as a little traditional, but it’s a special occasion in your life and something many people will only get to do once in a lifetime (unless you’re taking an academic career path of course). So congratulations if you’re getting your extra letters this year to your name and provided you follow these tips and your uni’s customs right, I’m confident you’ll be able to celebrate your graduation as a WIN!


Take care and the best of luck to all those graduating in the next few weeks




New Term, New Formats, New Stuff!

So, it’s been a while since I essayed, oddly enough like your assignments and lectures and in the short break there have been many lessons learned. I was going to save this announcement until summer, but with graduation around the corner for many and results day coming up for many of those about to enter university, it only made more sense to tell you about it before everything changes. So here’s what’s coming up in the site’s sophomore year:

New Design

Tired of the blue and white student newspaper look? Me too. It was never meant to be permanent theme, just sadly never got the time to make up a new one, but this September in the run up to fresher’s week, something new will be coming…

New Post Themes and Formats

Assginment writing is very time consuming right? Well, so is writing about a life of writing assignments (oh wait, I did a Music Tech degree, what’s an essay to me 😉 ), so I’m thinknig about changing up the weekly schedule to include some new types of posts that will spice up the survival guide. These formats/series include the return of Prove It!, Drink or WIN (a do-don’t style guide), FREE stuff to download on the 5th Tuesday of a month and Lessons Learned (a series on the things me and friends/colleagues have experienced and what we took away from it). Many more of these are to be announced over time, so stay tuned as we expand, perhaps beyond the guide itself!

New Stuff To Use

I don’t want to sit and just fire out stuff for you to purely read and I’m sure you don’t want just stuff to read each week, so every now and then I’ll give you stuff to use be in in classes, in studying or in partying. If you think there might be something I could produce that’s of use to you as well, let me know in the comments and I’ll give it the old college try!

(Hopefully) New Yous

As the new features and design comes in, I don’t want to make this all a one way street. Let’s start a conversation! I’ll be bringing on new ways to interact and new social features over time that I can’t wait for people to try out, so get involved and tell me what you agree and disagree with, tell others and you never know, you might just connect over a simple thought!


Take care guys this summer and I’ll have a brand new post next week for those whom are graduating.




Keeping Yourself Safe

Following the recent digital attacks across the world and the terrible terrorist attack on Manchester Arena in the UK, things have been looking pretty bleak in the UK, I thought it would be important to continue the theme of safety in protecting yourself both online and off. Whilst the threat level for UK residents is now at critical level and many other countries are on high alert for terrorism, bombings and unrest, we’re always advised, to say a cliched phrase, to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, otherwise the terrorists will win in instilling fear within us. However, with that in mind, it’s worth following the advise MI5 gives (regardless of where you’re from) that “the public should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and report any suspicious activity to the police”. With that here’s some tips to ensure you and those around you can remain as well as you can.

Let People Know Where You Are

Whether it’s through social media updates, word of mouth to your housemates or letting your parent’s/next of kin know when you’re going somewhere for a long period of time.

If something should happen, they’ll already know. This is where the affirmation comes in in letting them know you’re once you’re there and again once you’re home and/or safe. If contacting people directly isn’t an option, let people know you’re safe via the option on Facebook or by sending out a group message to your most important contacts on a messaging service.

Keep Your Important Data Safe

This includes on paper and digitally. This isn’t just to prevent theft – there’s nothing worse than being asked to prove your identity when you’re not sure where your passport or license is!

When it comes to bank accounts, taxes and documents a strong password is also advised. Try to keep this different from the one you use for your emails, shopping and social media accounts to ensure you that should the worst happen your financial and legal affairs aren’t compromised.

Where you are storing sensitive data on your phone, it’s worth having a good password to keep your device locked down. PIN lock, pattern, whatever suits you best. If other people like to use your laptop or phone a lot, it’s worth having a guest mode set up too so you can ensure your stuff stays safe from snooping eyes.

Lock Down Your Devices

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a password for every application, modification and login on your computer or device (though that can be helpful!). But when it comes to antivirus, anti spyware and firewalls, it can really pay to keep yourself protected. Windows gets a bad reputation for being targeted with these kinds of attacks, particularly the older versions that aren’t so well supported anymore, but in all honesty – it’s not chosen because of the little flaws (which considering there are millions of lines of code inside tens of thousands of functions, routines and conditions can be hard to spot in development initially) but mostly because of it’s popularity of being pre-installed on so many computers.

With many students being on loans or part time jobs, the idea of having to add the insurance of an internet security subscription on top of your other costs may seem a little bit much for somebody whom just goes on Facebook, Reddit and JSTOR regualry. Thankfully for those cash strapped people, there’s free antivirus such as avast, AVG, ZoneAlarm and Sophos. These are easy to download and install and often will keep themselves updated in the background (avast even comes with funky audio prompts to tell you what’s happening). Links to all of these will be on the right (not sponsored).

If you do want a few more bells and whistles, then many of the above also come with professional versions in addition to popular solutions such as Symantec’s Norton family and Kaspersky’s suite of applications (of which are currently free to selected Barclays Bank customers).

Now if you’re on MacOS, iOS, Android or Linux, don’t count yourself out of this. Whilst not a prime target for hackers, there are still those few that find their way in through email attachments on any operating system, odd APK packages on Android and package files in Linux. Mac, iOS and Android users will find many of the above companies also offer their software for these operating systems too, with Sophos also offering a Linux package. Do your homework on these and check out the various support forums if you’re not sure which is the best to go for on your chosen devices.

Keep An Eye on Accessories

This applies to both your own stuff and the stuff around you. Walking through a busy place like the city centres of London, Birmingham, New York, LA, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Bangkok, it’s easy to bump into others. It’s also easy for people to access your pockets.

Before you get to the end of the street you could have your keys taken, your contactless cards scanned and bulky items falling into the crowd. Thankfully this can be prevented fairly easily. Avoid putting valuables in your back pocket when you’re on busy streets. Your backside is made of fairly soft tissue and even the most toned people might not notice the subtle hand reaching into your pocket and lifting it’s contents. If you have a contactless card or a security badge that uses RFID or NFC technology, it’s worth protecting these too. Whether it’s putting that side of your wallet towards you your leg or getting a wallet that blocks it out.

In terms of other people’s possessions, make sure they’re next to someone, particularly if it’s in a public place like the highstreet. Dangerous items can often look completely innocent, from bombs in suitcases left at stations to white vans mysteriously parked, such as the one in the 1996 IRA bombing (also in Manchester). If you’re unsure, then follow the new campaign the British police force are saying here alongside rail companies – “See it…Say it…Sorted”.

Know Your Way Out

I’m sure you’ve learned a thousand times about fire safety and knowing where the exit is. This rule should apply to any situation when you need to get out. Whether you’re going to a big event, or a important conference, take note on your way in to your general and emergency exits. Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll need them, that nugget of information may become invaluable in an emergency situation.


The world can be a scary place sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be a hopeless one if you have a plan, know how to keep yourself safe and know how to let people know what’s going on.




6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Digital Attacks

Taking a breif break from the end of year submissions and exams, following the recent cyber attack globally, after helping to pick up the pieces in the NHS, I thought I’d share some interesting tips on how to keep your equipment safe from attacks. As we grow ever reliant on technology to escape the realities of the world or bring new possiblities it, sadly the forces of balance strike and crime will continue to grow across cyberspace. The Friday attack saw unprecedented damage both to those whom it took by surprise and for those that saw it coming. So to help you try to stay safe in the war on the Internet dark lords, here’s six different things you can do to defend yourself from digital attacks.

Don’t Delay Program and OS Updates (too much)

Yeah, I know we all hate them, especially when you see the same app appear in the list 6 days later with yet again with “Bug Fixes” as the main change. Yet despite being frustrating for your phone space, data usage and time there will be that one time your app mucks up or there’s a security issue that could well have been fixed with a recent patch. This doesn’t just apply to individual programs but to your operating systems too (heaven forbid if you didn’t update that!).

If you have to delay them for a bit (if you still have that option), don’t leave it too long, maybe you need to clear some space on your device, maybe you need to get on WiFi – all fine, just make sure you do it at least once a month.

Get and Keep Up to date Security Software

Whilst Windows seems to have a giant target on it’s back, it’s not the only operating system that’s open to attack. So it’s worth making sure you’ve got hardware/firmware and software that helps defend against the various forms of malicious software and people out there (Viruses, Trojan Horses, Spyware, Rootkits, Malware, Worms, Ransomware, DDoS, Unauthorised Entry, etc.)

There’s many different brands out there that suit different needs including compaines such as (but definitely not limited to), Symantec, Spybot, avast!, Kaspersky, Adaware AVG and Sophos that are great for multi-purpose internet security available on desktops, laptops and portable devices, some of which offer protection for free. So if you’re a little short on cash, get yourself some free protection to save you having to spend your next student loan payment on a new laptop or device.

The Great (Fire)wall

On top of your software that searches, blocks out and quarantines dodgy files, it helps to have a network equivalent of a bouncer checking all the traffic. When these are first installed it’s really tempting to turn it off since it will naturally block out everything from Xbox Live to Netflix, because it’s probably not configured to let through what you want it to.

So instead of turning it off everytime you want to stream or go to multiplayer, take some time to tweak it to let through just what you want. If you’re not sure, check out their respective forums that often have an active and helpful community, or check out the product you want to configure to ensure you have all the right settings.

Look for the Signs on Websites

Are you really getting a great deal online? Websites can also open a portal to hackers and money grabbers, tricking you into entering in your personal information for the promise of grandeur when really it’s just a box of confetti.

Therefore it’s always worth verifying the security is legit before your step forward. There’s a few different clues that will allow you to do this including a padlock icon in the address bar, or a warning prompt popping up to tell you an ‘SSL Certificate’ doesn’t completely check out. Occasionally as well depending on the company that did the verifying, there may be badges on the page verifying if the page has hacking proectection or verification links to security companies to reassure you the site you’re buying from takes their security with your card details seriously. If you’d like to know more about checking out these features and emblems, take a look at this article from Get Safe Online.

What’s this file?

A popular and old school trick to distributing dodgy software is either through email attractions or through unusually free downloads and torrent files. Nothing of course is free these days and occasionally those things that really do look free may come bundled with other stuff that people can easily be susceptible to opening, just the same way as that curious little attachment that looks so innocent from their nigerian prince benefactor or hot sexy girl from a far away land that’s interested in you.

If in doubt, download it to somewhere secure and quarantined on your hard drive, don’t open it and scan it with your chosen antivirus software.

It’s easy to get something travelling through your network when you blindly open files, so think carefully when you see something unusual and don’t trust everything that you claim from the internet.

Can’t be bothered? Invest in more Secure

Whilst every operating system has it’s flaws, Windows is still a market leader and with it comes the higher risk that if a vulnerability is found, the more chance you could be affected by an exploit if it’s not patched quickly.

If you really can’t be doing with keeping the line of defense up to date, then why not invest in one of the ‘cleaner’ systems such as an Apple Mac or reformat your desktop/laptop into a Linux based machine. These systems come across as more secure with hackers and virus writers focusing more on the larger fanbase of Windows. Just to be safe, be sure to download the internet security software mentioned above and make sure to download the right one for your operating syste, (EXEs don’t alwyas work through the Wine compatibility layer.


If you follow these basic tips, you should be fairly safe when going online. Whilst it’s not perfect this approach has served me well over time and I hope it helps you all too.

If you feel I’ve mised any off or want to raise a point, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below and start the conversation.

Stay Safe!