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  • It doesn't let the user touch anything therein unless it is in contact with the corporate server and has confirmation that the user is legitimate, hasn't been fired, and so on.If you have home-grown corporate applications or other proprietary apps that can run natively on the devices (increasingly the case as development tools improve for mobile devices) then there are also packages that let you deploy from a corporate equivalent of the Apple or Google app store and then wipe the apps remotely if the user leaves the company.Many people don't realise, for instance, that mobile device operating systems incorporate enterprise integration code that allows such tight control but simply sits there doing nothing if it is not connected to an enterprise system.If you have a device connected and secured sensibly, the risk of the contents going astray is small. The more usual problem is devices being lost or stolen, and nine times out of 10 when this happens the device's screenlock is already active. That means anyone who nicks or finds the device can't do anything without knowing the complex unlock password.Even if the screenlock is off, they shouldn't be able to change the settings so that it doesn't auto-lock after a set number of minutes. They will quickly get either bored or locked out.

    The cupboard will be bare by the time the new owner of the phone manages to get in And because you can disable the unit with a simple tickbox on the central server the moment the user notifies you of the loss, the cupboard will be bare by the time the new owner of the phone manages to get in.We've talked mostly about phones and tablets, on which you will mainly be doing fairly basic applications such as email, calendars, office-type applications and browser-based operation. But what about laptops?Firstly, a corporate laptop is merely a normal corporate machine that happens to be portable enough to be operated outside the office as well as inside. So it will be part of the corporate directory structure, will have the corporate anti-virus suite on it and so on.Taking a tightly-controlled device out of the office and using it remotely poses a minimal risk so long as (a) you ensure that it authenticates and encrypts strongly when connecting into the network; and (b) you equip it with software that prevents data being read if it falls into the wrong hands.If you are a Windows house, my view is that you simply need to use DirectAccess. It is brilliant and enables your corporate PCs to link securely to the organisation's network without farting about manually dialling a VPN link.

    There is only one downside: in my experience configuring DirectAccess from scratch is just a tad harder than, say, putting a man on the moon. Happily, there are companies out there that can do it for you, and I gather that modern versions require rather less rocket science. If you are not using Windows, well, you are back in traditional VPN territory.You must, of course, enforce two-factor authentication on corporate laptops in case they are lost. My favourite addition to the username/password challenge is to add fingerprint identification: it is easier for users to forget their 2FA dongle than their hand (and laptops with fingerprint sensors are no longer stupidly expensive).To ensure that the PC can't be booted when lost or stolen, packages such as BitLocker and a bazillion others on the market combine with special on-board hardware in the laptop to encrypt the on-board disks. Again, you need strong authentication at boot time, but with this caveat you can make your portable computers super-secure.

    There is one other thing you can look at: what data the users access when laptops are outside the corporate network. This is particularly relevant to internet access: you of course have perimeter controls that intercept unwitting attempts by users in the office to access, but how do you control that when they are at home?Easy: you buy one of the products (I really like WebSense's offering) that plonks an extension on the laptop to enforce the corporate policy when the device is outside the network.Sounds bonkers, but since you have prohibited users from de-installing software from their machines (you have, haven't you?) there is nothing they can do to get around it, and they can't whinge about you controlling what they can do with a corporate device.

    I have an intense dislike of connecting non-company computers to the office LAN. They are not part of the directory service, they are not strongly controlled, and even if they are not part of the corporate directory service the users can often still authenticate as corporate domain users and copy files in and out.If you do have a burning desire to connect users' computers to the LAN, at the very least use a network admission control mechanism. Any computer popping onto the network will be dropped into a quarantine VLAN where the company server can interrogate it and check its operating system patch level and virus/malware protection.If it is not satisfied then the device is pegged within that VLAN (which is generally provided with basic internet access so the user can download the necessary updates) until such time as the system can re-check and satisfy itself that the machine is safe to admit.If you do take this approach, though, don't let non-corporate devices onto the main LAN that your company machines sit on. The motivation for connecting things to the cabled LAN should simply be to ensure they have speedy access. Once admitted they should still remain in a network outside the firewall and access corporate resources only via a virtual desktop or similar.

    Finally, while you are doing all of the above you also need to be able to monitor what is going on and report on it both for the IT department and as a regular management reporting exercise.Whatever systems you choose to use for governing the security of your mobile devices, you should not neglect the reporting aspects of the tool during the evaluation and selection process.The negative side of the reporting task – checking to see what nefarious activity is going on – tends not to get a lot of attention, and rightly so. If you have protection in place then you generally don't find people trying to bypass it.The main use for it is when a user's own machine connects into the quarantine VLAN and is found to have inadequate virus protection and is riddled with infections. Again, you won't have allowed these infections into the network, but you still want to know that there are sick computers knocking on your electronic door.On the positive side, though, if you can report in the day-to-day stats that a high percentage of your sales team are using their Android tablets to progress customer leads, but that nobody's really using the system uptime tool, that's great: you know where to concentrate your efforts in expanding systems and where you can discontinue stuff because it turned out nobody really wanted it.

    I am going to have a bit of a Jerry Springer moment now. You know, where he wraps up with a moral statement that didn't come up in the show but follows on from what did.The purpose of governance is to ensure that your organisation can use its systems for company benefit without detriment to security or adverse effect on the risk of doing business.But in fact the procurement of the tools you use for governance – which may well be something that the corporate affairs, legal or financial division are looking to buy – can just as easily be justified as an IT purchase.After all they are good for managing systems, reporting on usage, enabling you to focus development effort where it is required and kill off unpopular systems, planning capacity and defining hardware and operating system platforms ... I could go on.So if you are an IT manager who wants to buy tools to do this stuff, talk to the departments that are paid to care about governance and show them that what you want is a direct relative of what they want.There is a decent chance they will not only agree with you, but will stump up some cash from their budget too.

    Off the road and on the hill, time and logistics meant that we didn't quite get to sample the whole range of RS models, we did have numerous runs up in the RS3 and a couple each in the RS4, RS6 and RS7, and the RS3 felt most comfortable on the tight, twisty turns. The RS7 was ultimately the fastest of the three, in the right hands, while the RS6 was the one we’d most liked to have snuck away with. But the combination of size, power and that new Quattro system made the RS3 the one that gave you the confidence to push from the first run – and, I suspect, it's the one that most normal drivers could get the best times out of.The dash, as you’d expect, is well put together from quality materials. There are some nice touches, too, like the boost gauge inset into the speedo. But it’s just a touch intimidating. The wheel has the gear change switches mounted on it and turning with it, as nature intended, and the indicator stalk sits above and to the left, wipers above and to the right. Below the paddles on the left is the cruise control and on the right is a retro ignition key – no keyless ignition or start-stop button here – and, although it works perfectly well, the overall impression is somewhere between Vishnu and a brushed aluminium and leather Christmas tree.

    A slew of radio and menu buttons adorn the wheel and the most eclectic collection of controls imaginable are arrayed across the centre of the dash – below the pop-up satnav screen and above the centre console. The hazard light switch is in the middle. While I’m not sure this endless, faceless row of buttons is the place for it, if it’s got to be there, in the middle is where it belongs.Then our car boasted, from left to right and in order – and I use the word ‘order’ quite wrongly – parking sensors, a blank, auto start, traction control, another blank, the hazard lights, video screen down and a switch to cycle through the drive modes.The gear stick is surrounded by yet more buttons – most of them related to the navigation and media system. The controls for lights are the other side of the wheel. When you add in the switches on the doors and the seats, I'm sure there must be fewer controls in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft. Audi’s designers might want to Google HOTAS – it’s shorter than ergonomics.Like the buttons on the dash, the options list is almost endless. Our £47,950 car had pearl-effect paint (Sepang blue), fine Nappa leather super sports seats (in contrast to the standard-issue Nappa leather sports seats), a comfort and sound package, aluminium race design inlays, Audi Magnetic Ride with RS Sports suspension, a technology package with the Audi connect option, the matt aluminium styling pack, the Audi Phone Box, five-spoke rotor design alloys, an extended mono per interior finish, autodimming, folding mirrors and aluminium roof bars – adding eight grand to the list price. We’d suggest saving £5,000 and just taking the paint, the wheels and the trick shocks and dampers.

    Outwardly, it’s a family hatchback and, if you buy one of these rather than a coupe or sportscar with similar going, stopping and cornering performance, presumably you want to lug reasonable loads, as well. Or at least be able to go away for more than two days without filling the boot. Here, the Audi doesn’t do so well against the competition – or the outgoing model. 280 litres is 22 down on the old RS3, although with the seats down you have 1,120, almost 90 litres more than you would have done before. But the Merc has 341 (and 1,157) and the BMW 360 and 1,200. On the plus side, the cargo net in our test car did keep a laptop and camera securely in place when going up the hill.So back the earlier question – why? The answer is precisely because of the car’s split personality. The other TV ad for the RS3, which shows the car lashed down and straining to escape its bonds, is perhaps closer to identifying what the appeal of this car is. But for the most part, it feels like a slightly stiff, slightly rough-around-the-edges hatchback. Until you want a snorting, growling, hypersonic supercar, that is – and then it doesn't disappoint.