Is updating Java really important?

This is a sponsored post. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

What do you know about Java? If the answer is not much, then you are not alone. In this article I am going to explore exactly what Java is, and why it is so important that you keep it up to date.

Java or JavaScript?

Java and JavaScript are completely different things, however many people confuse them as one and the same.

JavaScript
JavaScript is a scripting language (like PHP and HTML) that is used in browsers to help render websites, and is also now used to create [relatively simple] desktop games.

We use JavaScript on our blog. One example can be found in our comment form; if you don’t tick the box to confirm you have read the comment policy and click Post Comment, a box comes up reminding you that you have to tick it to proceed – that works via JavaScript.

You can disable JavaScript, but so many websites use it nowadays, your browsing experience would be significantly affected.

Java
Java is a programming language, which is capable of doing far more than JavaScript. Java can be used to create new programs and applications that run virtually on their own, or via a browser.

Most computers come pre-loaded with Java, as do many other devices, including some cars, printers, parking machines, ATMs and more. A printer doesn’t use JavaScript, as it is a browser based language.

Malicious Java

It is possible for someone to gain access to your computer via Java. All you would need to do is visit a website with malicious Java code on it, and unknowingly to you, you could be being hacked. Some websites allow you to add your own code to their site, (like forum’s for example) so it might not even be a malicious website you are visiting, just one page which contains malicious code.

Oracle's Java logoWhen you visit a page with a malicious Java application, your browser will usually start to run the code, which will open up a direct link between your PC and the hacker – remember browsing the net is a two way process, every time you request data from a server, the server can request something back.

On face value, a page with malicious Java could look completely normal and trustworthy, as you wouldn’t be able to see the code – your browser would render it for you.

Malicious code can give a hacker almost complete access to your machine, via the internet. They could potentially browse through your files and open applications, and even receive feedback from input devices like a webcam and microphone.

Java Update

When Sun Microsystems (who are now owned by Oracle) developed Java, they didn’t plan for it to be used maliciously, and still don’t. Like with most code, hackers exploit loopholes and flaws in the language, to enable them to perform malicious activity.

Oracle's logoLike with any software, to combat malicious activity, when flaws are discovered, developers create patches and launch new versions to protect uses against their installation being misused.

Many of the know ways Java can be used to gain access to your computer are preventable, if you have the latest version installed.

It is important that you not only keep your computers version of Java up to date, but also your browser’s version. Many browsers come with a Java plugin, and this can become outdated, even if your system version of Java is up to date.

You should check to see if your browser’s extensions and plugins are up to date ideally once every week. If you have Premier IT Support, or your computer is updated by an external provider, you shouldn’t need to update Java, as that should be taken of care for you.

How to get great gadgets on a budget

It’s a very easy – and all too common – mistake to see your student loan arrive in your bank account and rush out and spend it all on the latest must-have gadgets. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, printers, they’re all “essential” to student life, (well, in a social capacity in most senses, but to some they’re essential).

Obviously going off to University is an exciting time and you want to go fully prepared for the academic year, and to make an impression on your new friends and flat mates. But you can do all of this without breaking the bank.

For instance there are some great laptop deals for students specifically which enable them to get the computer they want as well as all of the software they’ll need to help with the course, and even discounts on devices like printers and wireless routers.

When you think about it, you can get what you consider to be brilliant deals on your computer, printer and tablet – to name just three you might buy together – getting discounts on all three, but it can still add up to upwards of £1,000. But one of the advantages of being a student is being eligible for a package tailor made for getting you through the late night group projects and the 10,000-word essays that you finish at 4am.

National Union of Students card

An NUS student card

You might not think that some of the devices in the offers are what you would call “top drawer” or even as cool as what your friend has bought, but if you’ve spent £500 and they’ve spent £1,500, you’ve got an extra thousand left in your bank account to enjoy yourself with while taking the necessary “study breaks”, or to keep in hand for emergencies and all-important food shops. There are only so many times you can buy own-brand beans after all!

Budgeting is a key part of Uni life, something you don’t tend to realise until the end of the year (or the end of your third year in a lot of cases) but anything you can save before you start your first term is going to benefit you later on, allowing you to upgrade your gadgets in the future when you’ve got a little bit extra that you can spend without getting into financial difficulties.

The deals on laptops and other tech for students really are worth looking into. A lot of the top brands produce models and packages designed purely for students at prices made for students. If I had one tip, check them out, don’t just splash the cash on the biggest and best because you want to be cool.

Exploring arguably essential home gadgets

We all love our gadgets, some people more than others of course – we’ve all got parents or grandparents who haven’t got a clue how to turn a computer on, let alone check their emails or catch up with their family on Facebook. But for the gadget lovers among us there’s nothing better than getting home with a new bit of kit, setting it up and turning it on for the first time. It’s like a birthday and Christmas all rolled into one!

Christmas and birthday in one

Christmas and birthday rolled into one!

But while we all have such affection towards the latest offerings, what would we actually call “essential’? After all, the very latest devices and gadgets don’t come cheap and disposable income isn’t exactly at its peak at the moment. We’re finding that we have to budget more, and even wait until the price drops after a few months before we can get our hands on some devices, an agonizing wait for many I’m sure. So if we had to prioritize our gadgets, what would they be?

Laptop

Of course, you have to have a laptop. Tablets and smartphones are great but sometimes you just need a computer to get certain jobs done as well as they possibly can be with a bigger screen and better all round packages. You’ve got numerous top quality manufacturers to choose between, all offering different packages, with Apple, Dell, HP and co all vying for the title of top laptop manufacturer.

Printer

Obviously, if you’re working on your laptop at home for an important project for work, school, college or University, it’s vital that you have a way to get it off the computer and into a tangible document. For that reason you need a printer capable of producing your work in high quality, something Dell printers for one are synonymous for, while other features can include scanners, photocopiers and fax machine capabilities.

Smartphone

Then when you leave the house it’s vital that you can stay connected to the rest of the world. Smartphones such as the iPhone, BlackBerry and Samsung Galaxy give you the ability to check your emails on the move, update you location to Facebook, look into what Lady Gaga has had to say on Twitter and even buy things, you can do it all while you’re out of the house. Oh, and you can text and make calls too of course!

Tablet

One of the must-have items of the moment, tablet computers such as the iPad are taking the world by storm. On the train, in the boardroom, at the park, they’re all using them as perfect hybrids between smartphones and computers.

Music Player

Finally, of course, you have to have an iPod or similar device to listen to your favourite music on. Whether you’re in the gym, on the train or just relaxing, it’s always good to have some music to keep you in the mood for whatever you’re doing.

These are what I believe are essential home gadgets, but what is your views? Do you consider all these gadgets essential, and if not, which are yours?

Which new printer is best for you?

A printerAs with everything from televisions to cameras to computers, printer technology evolves and improves with every year. Printer manufacturers release new models every calendar year that offer new features, improved capabilities and, in some cases, fixes for problems that have plagued users in earlier models.

In 2012, printers are faster than ever before, providing crisp and clean images and text. Still, they manage to print more quickly and use less ink, making them so much more efficient. Other trends this year include larger formats and wireless capabilities. Here’s a closer look at some of the top printers of 2012, for all possible budgets and printing needs.

HP Envy 110 e-All-in-One

Want a printer that is environmentally friendly while also providing high-quality printing? Then this is your printer. The world’s only PVC-free printer, the Envy inkjet printer, is also Energy Star certified and offers green features like automatic two-sided printing and an ink cartridge recycling program.

In addition to the low environmental impact, the Envy offers quick and quiet printing and produces lab quality photo prints and crisp documents. And in addition to the wireless capabilities, the Envy has built in AirPrint capabilities, meaning you can print from your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. Best of all, the Envy is affordable, just around $200.

Canon Pixma MX432

Are you working from home? Do you need an affordable machine that prints, scans and copies? Then the Canon Pixma MX432 might be a good option for you.

Costing about $100, this sleek machine does everything you need for a low price. While this inkjet has a slightly slower speed than some other comparable printers, it provides excellent photo printing and includes wireless and AirSoft capabilities for convenient printing on the go.

HP Officejet Pro 8500

If you need fast and high-quality printing plus the capability to scan, copy and fax, then this is the model for you. One of the most user-friendly printers on the market, it boasts a large LCD screen that allows you to set your preferences with just the touch of a button.

For an inexpensive all-in-one (this model runs just under $300) the HP Officejet prints quickly, with about 15 pages per minute in black and white, 11 pages per minute in color, both with professional-looking resolution and quality. The drawback to this model is that it does not have wireless capabilities, but you can scan directly to e-mail or print from a memory card.

Epson Artisan 835/Epson Artisan 1430

If you print lots of photos at home, then the Epson Artisan 835 is definitely a printer to consider. Unlike other inkjet printers that use four color ink cartridges plus a black cartridge, the Epson uses a six cartridge system.

The two extra ink colors, light magenta and light cyan, allow the Epson to print photos with a greater range and depth of colors, meaning that your snapshots look professionally printed. This printer is more than adequate in other areas as well, providing crisp black and white printing at nine pages per minute, plus scanning, faxing and copying capabilities. This printer costs around $300.

If you would rather have greater photo printing capabilities than multiple functions, consider the Epson Artisan 1430. This printer is geared toward the photographer, printing gallery-worthy prints up to 13” x 19”. With a price tag of less than $300, this printer is far more affordable than other wide format models, making it the ideal choice for amateur photographers or craft enthusiasts who want to print larger photos and documents.

The Artisan 1430 also includes wireless capabilities, plus Epson Connect, which allows you to print from your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.

Printers have come a long way from the slow and inefficient dot matrix models of the early days of home computing. The best model for you depends on how you plan to use it; if you plan to print mostly documents, look for a model that prints quickly and efficiently, while a photo printer should provide high-quality color prints.

If you take lots of photos or do work on a mobile device, choose a compatible printer that allows you to print directly from your device. Test a few models, compare the quality and make the right printer decision for you; if nothing else, there will plenty of new models to choose from next year.